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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Slipped
by Tom Moeller February 7, 2008

Initial claims for jobless insurance slipped 22,000 last week to 356,000. The decline pulled back only a piece of the prior week's upwardly revised 72,000 surge. The latest remained near the highest level since October of 2005.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, a measure which smoothes out most of the series' w/w volatility, rose again to 335,000 (+7.5% y/y).

A claims level below 400,000 typically has been associated with growth in nonfarm payrolls. During the last ten years there has been a (negative) 76% correlation between the level of initial claims and the m/m change in nonfarm payroll employment.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance jumped 75,000 following a 41,000 increase during the week prior. That was revised down just slightly. The figure provides some indication of workers' ability to find employment but here again difficulties of seasonal adjustment this time of year are great.

The continuing claims numbers lag the initial claims figures by one week.

The insured rate of unemployment rose w/w back to 2.1%.

Business Volatility, Job Destruction and Unemployment from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.

A Minimum Wager from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is available here.

Unemployment Insurance (000s)  02/02/08 01/26/07 Y/Y 2006  2005 2004
Initial Claims  356 378 13.4% 313 331 343
Continuing Claims -- 2,785 12.8% 2,459 2,662 2,924
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