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Initial Unemployment Claims Creeping Up

First time claims were unchanged at 370,000 for the week ended May 12 after the number of initial claims filed for the previous week was revised upward, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.dol.gov/ reported Thursday. Economists had expected initial claims would decrease to 365,000.


The Labor Department had initially reported 367,000 claims filed for the week ended May 5. The revision turned that report to an increase of 2,000 from a previously reported decline of 1,000.

Continuing claims â€' reported on a one week lag â€' increased 18,000 to 3,265,000 after the preceding week's report was bumped up to 3,247,000 from an originally reported 3,269,000, coincidentally another 18,000 increase from the original report.

The report marked the fifth time in the last six weeks first time claims have not declined.

This week's report covered the survey week used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the monthly Employment Situation report to be released on June 1, hinting at another month of slow job growth. Although first time claims fell from mid-April to mid-May, they remain elevated from data earlier in the year. In the last six weeks, initial claim filings have averaged 379,500 compared with 366,500 in the previous six weeks.

Initial claims remain above 350,000 which economists consider a tipping point between an expanding and contracting jobs market. First time claims filings were last below 350,000 in March 2008.

Initial claims had been falling slowly but steadily since the beginning of 2011 but now appear to have settled in at a disappointing higher plateau.

The four week moving average for initial claims fell for the second straight week to 375,000. The four week average for continuing claims dropped 11,750 to 3,282,750.

The total number of people collecting benefits under all unemployment insurance programs, reported on a two-week lag, fell 149,759 to 6,273.624. That tally reflects changes in unemployment insurance programs, capping the number of weeks benefits would be paid, enacted when Congress approved the extension of the payroll tax suspension. According to the latest BLS report, 12.5 million people were officially counted as unemployed.

States reported 2,666,007 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending April 28, a decrease of 22,150 from the prior week, the Labor Department said. There were 3,468,979 claimants in the comparable week in 2011.

According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag, the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending May 5 were in Missouri (+2,569), New York (+2,276), Pennsylvania (+1,674), California (+1,613), and Texas (+1,229), while the largest decreases were in Florida (-2,599), Indiana (-1,735), Connecticut (-1,038), New Hampshire (-836), and Massachusetts (-668).

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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