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Initial Unemployment Claims Rise For Third Straight Week

First time claims for unemployment insurance rose 8,000 in the week ended March 2, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.dol.gov/ reported today, the third straight weekly increase after revisions to earlier data.

Continuing claims, reported on a one-week lag, increased by 10,000 to 3,416,000, the second straight weekly increase.

The four week moving average for initial claims edged up modestly to 355,000 from 354750, while the average for continuing claims fell.

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The three week ""losing streak"" for first-time claims â€" which could be undone by revisions -- was the longest since July 2010, but coming after a steady drop in claims is troublesome.

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It brings to mind a similar pause in improvement early last year when after declining at a consistent pace, at the end of 2010 into 2011, claims began to increase, jumping from 391,000 in the beginning of February to 478,000 at the end of April.

The total number of people collecting benefits under emergency programs declined as expected as Congress capped the length of emergency programs.

Against recent data showing just under 13 million people are officially counted as unemployed, the total number of people collecting under all programs is just under 7.4 million.

The claims report will have no impact on the employment data to be released Friday detailing payroll jobs and the unemployment rate for February.

The Employment Situation report is based on data collected during the week of the month which includes the 12th calendar day. The claims report released Thursday was for a later week in the month and could auger disappointing news in the March employment report to be released at the beginning of April.

According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag, the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending February 25 were in Massachusetts (+3,475), Rhode Island (+1,275), New Jersey (+1,274), Connecticut (+1,186), and Michigan (+564), while the largest decreases were in California (-4,531), Pennsylvania (-2,238), Texas (-1,535), New York (-1,321), and Florida (-1,124).

About Author: Mark Lieberman

Mark Lieberman is the former Senior Economist at Fox Business Network. He is now Managing Director and Senior Economist at Economics Analytics Research. He can be heard each Friday on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM Radio 124.
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