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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Jobless Insurance Claims Slip To Low-End Of Recent Range
by Tom Moeller May 13, 2010

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that initial claims for jobless insurance fell 4,000 to 444,000 after the prior week's lessened 3,000 drop. As was the case last week, the latest level remained near this cycle's lowest but disappointed Consensus expectations for 440,000 claims. Last week's figure was down from the recession peak of 651,000 reached in March of 2009. The four-week moving average of initial claims increased slightly to 450,500.

A 12,000 increase in continuing claims for unemployment insurance during the latest week followed a lessened 38,000 drop during the prior week. Claims were down by one-third from the June '09 peak. The overall decline is a function of the improved job market but also reflects the exhaustion of 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. Continuing claims provide an indication of workers' ability to find employment. The four-week average of continuing claims at 4.640M remained near the cycle low. This series dates back to 1966.

Extended benefits for unemployment insurance rose w/w to 218,812. However, they were down by three-quarters from a peak of 597,688 reached in November.

The insured unemployment rate remained at 3.6% where it has been since mid-February. The rate reached a high of 4.9% during May. During the last ten years, there has been a 96% correlation between the level of the insured unemployment rate and the overall rate of unemployment published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending April 24 were in Alaska (6.6 percent), Puerto Rico (6.3), Oregon (5.8), Nevada (5.1), California (4.9), Pennsylvania (4.8), Wisconsin (4.8), Montana (4.7), North Carolina (4.6), Rhode Island (4.6), Connecticut (4.5), and Idaho (4.5). The lowest insured unemployment rates were in Virginia (2.1), Texas (2.2), Georgia (2.8), Wyoming (2.9), Maryland (3.0), Florida (3.1), Ohio (3.2), New York (3.5) and Maine (3.7). These data are not seasonally adjusted but the overall insured unemployment rate is.

The unemployment insurance claims data is available in Haver's WEEKLY database and the state data is in the REGIONW database.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 05/08/10 05/01/10 04/24/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Initial Claims 444 448 451 -29.0% 572 419 321
Continuing Claims -- 4,627 4,615 -27.6% 5,809 3,340 2,549
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 3.6 3.6 4.9 (5/2009) 4.4 2.5 1.9
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