12.10.2009 Policy Points

Unemployment Claims in NC: Week of 11/21

For the benefit week ending on November 21st, 13,868 North Carolinians filed initial claims for unemployment insurance, and 177,515 individuals applied for continuing insurance benefits. Compared to the prior week, there were fewer initial and continuing claims;  however, this is partly due to the fact that the filing week contained fewer than five workdays owing to the Thanksgiving holiday. These figures come from data released today by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Averaging new and continuing claims over a four-week period — a process that helps adjust for seasonal fluctuations and better illustrates trends — shows that an average of 18,147 initial claims were filed over the last four weeks, along with an average of 181,033 continuing claims. Compared to the previous four-week period, both initial and continuing claims were somewhat lower.

One year ago, the four-week average for initial claims stood at 20,437 and the four-week average of continuing claims equaled 130,567.

The graph (right) shows the changes in unemployment insurance claims (as a share of covered employment) in North Carolina since the recession’s start in December 2007.

Although new and continuing claims appear to have peaked for this business cycle, the claims levels remain elevated and point to a labor market that remains extremely weak. Especially troubling is the high level of continuing claims, which suggests that unemployed individuals are finding it extremely difficult to find new positions.

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