Policy Points

15.01.2010 Policy Points Comments Off on Unemployment Claims in NC: Week of 12/26

Unemployment Claims in NC: Week of 12/26

For the benefit week ending on December 26th, 34,172 North Carolinians filed initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits, and 219,701 individuals applied for state-funded continuing insurance benefits. Compared to the prior week, there were fewer initial and continuing claims. (Note the filing week had fewer business days due to the New Year’s 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 20,405 initial claims were filed over the last four weeks, along with an average of 197,495 continuing claims. Compared to the previous four-week period, both initial and continuing claims were higher.
untitled

One year ago, the four-week average for initial claims stood at 27,290 and the four-week average of continuing claims equaled 166,264.

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.

15.01.2010 Policy Points Comments Off on Service Activity in the South Atlantic: Dec.

Service Activity in the South Atlantic: Dec.

From the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s December survey of service-sector activity in the South Atlantic (District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia):

Activity in the service sector remained weak in December, according to the latest survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Retail sales dropped sharply, led by falling big-ticket sales, and shopper traffic declined. Retail inventory contraction slowed. Revenues at services firms also fell in December. Looking ahead six months, however, survey respondents were optimistic about business prospects.

In service sector labor markets, job cuts increased at retail establishments and services firms. Average wages in the sector were unchanged, compared to a month ago, and price growth was mild. For the six months ahead, survey respondents expected modest price growth.

14.01.2010 Policy Points Comments Off on Around the Dial – Jan.14

Around the Dial – Jan.14

Economic policy reports, blog postings, and media stories of interest:

14.01.2010 Policy Points Comments Off on A Framework for Manufacturing

A Framework for Manufacturing

Over the holidays, the Obama Administration released a white paper outlining “A Framework for Revitalizing American Manufacturing.” The document looks at a strong manufacturing sector as vital to the nation’s long-term prosperity and considers ways in which public policy can nurture the sector’s viability and competitiveness.  More specifically, the report details a seven-part agenda:

  • Provide workers with the opportunity to obtain the skills necessary to be highly productive.
  • Invest in the creation of new technologies and business practices.
  • Develop stable and efficient capital markets for business investment.
  • Help communities and workers transition to a better future.
  • Invest in an advanced transportation infrastructure.
  • Ensure market access and a level playing field.
  • Improve the business climate, especially for manufacturing.
14.01.2010 Policy Points Comments Off on Manufacturing in the South Atlantic: Dec.

Manufacturing in the South Atlantic: Dec.

From the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s December survey of manufacturing activity in the South Atlantic (District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia):

Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region pulled back in December from positive territory after expanding during the previous seven months, according to the Richmond Fed’s latest survey. All broad indicators of activity — shipments, new orders and employment — landed in negative territory. Most other indicators also suggested additional softness. Capacity utilization turned negative following seven months of improvement, while backlogs held steady. Vendor delivery times were virtually unchanged, while manufacturers reported slightly quicker growth in inventories.

Despite the decline in activity, manufacturers in December were more optimistic about their future prospects. Firms anticipated that their shipments, new orders, backlogs, and capacity utilization would grow more rapidly in the months ahead.