Initial claims* for unemployment insurance benefits have dropped to their lowest level since May of 2008. For the week ending December tenth, initial claims dropped by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted total of 366,000, according to new data released by the United States Department of Labor.
The four week moving average of claims, which helps to smooth out the effect of the volatility of any one particular week, dropped to 387,750; the lowest reading since July of 2008. The four week moving average has declined for ten of the past twelve weeks.
Initial applications, or initial claims, for unemployment benefits, are an indication of the pace of layoffs; and the drop in claims indicates companies are laying off fewer workers as the economy improves. Job cuts have declined sharply in recent months, but hiring has only risen at a modest pace. Hiring will only be considered strong enough to significantly lower the unemployment rate when initial claims fall below 375,000 consistently for several weeks.
Along with the drop in claims, the overall unemployment rate also dropped from 9.0 percent to 8.6 percent. The 8.6 percent represents the lowest rate in two and a half years; however, about half the drop (approximately 315,000 people) occurred due to some unemployed workers giving up their search for employment. Once an unemployed worker stops looking for a job, they are no longer counted as unemployed. At the same time, the share of the working age population that is employed rose to an eight month high.
There is also a broader measure of unemployment that includes the job seekers who would like to work but have given up the search for employment, as well as those working part time who would prefer to work full time. This measure dropped to a two and a half year low of 15.6 percent in November, down from 16.2 percent in October.
Economists had predicted a rise in continuing claims** to 3.63 million, however the rise in those job seekers still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid edged up by 4,000 to 3.60 million for the week ending December 3rd.
* Initial claims measure the number of people filing applications for unemployment insurance benefits; some claims are later denied.
** Continuing claims include those American job seekers filing for the second week of claims or longer.
Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report for Week Ending December 10, 2011
Mass Layoffs Monthly News Release (November 22, 2011)
Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers – Third Quarter 2011
Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment – September, 2011
Unemployment Rate – Lowest Level in Six Months
Tier-specific EUC data
Information on the EB program
State Detail Prior Week
UI Claims Series 1967 to Current
Unemployment Rates for States
Career One Stop State Locator
The Arizona Unemployment Insurance Program
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (Special programs in locations declared by the President as disaster areas.)
Legislative and AZUI Contact Information For Arizona Residents and UI Recipients
Veterans Services in Arizona
Disabled Workers Services in Arizona
Mature Workers Services in Arizona
Youth Services in Arizona
Job Seekers Assistance in Arizona
Who Is Counted as Unemployed?
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