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Initial Jobless Claims in First Drop in Five Weeks

First time claims for unemployment insurance fell to 377,000 for the week ended June 2 from the prior week's upwardly revised 389,000, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.dol.gov/ reported Thursday. Economists had expected the report would be show 379,000 initial claims.


The drop in claims was the first in five weeks. The four week stretch of increases was the longest since October-November 2008.

Continuing claims â€" reported on a one week lag â€" rose 34,000 to 3,293,000, the highest level in six weeks. The previous week's total of continuing claims, 3,259,000 was revised up from the previously reported 3,242,000.

That the prior week's report was revised upward and was no surprise: first time claims have been revised upward for all but three of the 21 weekly reports this year.

Even with the week-week drop, the claims report continues to show labor market struggles. In the first nine weeks of the quarter, first time claims have averaged 379,000, compared with 372,000 in the first nine weeks of the first quarter.

The increase in continuing claims came despite the fact legislation enacted in February had capped unemployment benefit programs which would have cut off benefits for some individuals. The increase signals ongoing difficulties in finding a job. Prior week-week declines in continuing claims â€" they had dropped in four of the previous five weeks â€" was attributable to changes in the number of weeks those out of work can collect benefits. Those changes were enacted when Congress approved an extension of the payroll tax reduction in February.

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.

The four week moving average for initial claims rose to 377,750, an increase of 1,750 from the preceding week. The four week average for continuing claims increased 11,500 to 3,279,750, the first increase since December 24.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs â€" reported on a two-week lag - for the week ending May 19 was 5,970,729, a decrease of 167,133 from the previous week. According to the latest BLS report, 12.72 million people were officially counted as unemployed in May.

States reported 2,572,558 persons claimed EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending May 19, a decrease of 45,808 from the prior week, the Labor Department said. There were 3,381,090 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 26 were in Georgia (+2,078), Tennessee (+1,983), Missouri (+1,898), Illinois (+1,798), and New York (+1,578), while the largest decreases were in Texas (-376), North Carolina (-371), California (-344), Pennsylvania (-291), and Virginia (-275).

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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