WASHINGTON D.C. (
) -- Initial jobless claims dropped by 22,000 in the week ending Dec. 26, defying a market expectation that claims would rise by 8,000 to a level of 460,000. The better-than-expected drop in initial claims from 454,000 to 432,000 brings the four-week moving average to 460,250.
The latest jobless data continues the recent positive trend, with claims having dropped in the past two months. Recent hopes that there may be a net increase in jobs as soon as January or February should receive a further boost from the latest positive data. What's more, the unexpectedly large decline brings initial claims ever-nearer the 425,000 level that some economists have pegged as the indicator that the economy is actually adding jobs.
Claims have dropped by 80,000, or 15%, since late October. Last week's total of 452,000 was the lowest initial claims level since September 2008. There were 717,000 initial claims in the comparable week in 2008. The four-week initial claims level was also down 5,500 from the previous week's revised average of 465,750.
The unemployment rate was 3.9% percent, during the week ending Dec. 19, a decrease of 0.2% from the prior week. The number for persons claiming unemployment benefits in state programs totaled 5,090,652, a decrease of 254,815 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 3.4% and the volume was 4,572,637.
The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending Dec. 12 were in Alaska (7.4 %), Oregon (6.1%), Puerto Rico (5.8%), Wisconsin (5.6%), Michigan (5.5%), Idaho (5.4%), Montana (5.4%), Nevada (5.4%), Pennsylvania (5.4%), and California (5.3&).
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Dec. 19 were in Michigan (+8,382), California (+7,317), Florida (+3,179), Iowa (+2,820) and Missouri (+1,628), while the largest decreases were in Tennessee (-2,972), Illinois (-2,923), Pennsylvania (-2,875), Georgia (-2,684) and North Carolina (-1,771).
-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.
Follow TheStreet.com on
and become a fan on
Copyright 2009 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.