Initial Jobless Claims Fall Slightly For the Week

Initial jobless claims for the week ending Dec. 13 are a little less gloomy with seasonally-adjusted claims coming in at 554,000, a 3.65 percent decrease — 21,000 less claims — from the previous week’s revised figure of 575,000 claims. The four-week moving average was not so optimistic, however, totaling 543,750, showing a 0.5 percent increase of 2,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 541,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor‘s most recent data. Even the unadjusted, raw figure from the Department showed a slight decrease, with unadjusted jobless claims totaling 626,943 in the week ending Dec. 13, a decrease of 132,588 from the previous week. There were 393,042 initial claims in the comparable week in 2007, according to the Department. The announcement comes in time for the Christmas holiday next week, suggesting perhaps there are a few less unemployed celebrators. Or, rather, there might simply be a few less unemployed individuals filing unemployment claims. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate did not change from the previous week’s data, totaling 3.3 percent for the week ending Dec. 6, but coming in 1.3 percentage points higher than the 2 percent insured rate seen in the previous year. The number of individuals receiving unemployment benefits decreased to 4.38 million for the week ending Dec. 6 from the previous week’s 4.43 million, according to the Department’s advance data. Although the figures may inspire optimism regarding increasingly dreary unemployment, economists say the bottom of the economy’s fall is still a distance away. Securities industry trade group SIFMA said late Monday that it now expects gross domestic product to fall a full percentage point in 2009, as a sharp U.S. recession runs its course through the middle of next year. The group’s economic advisory round table suggested that rampant speculation, but a current lack of certainty, over what the incoming Obama administration will or will not do is “making attempts to forecast more challenging than at any time in recent memory.” Or at least, the past eight years. Write to Diana Golobay at

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