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Initial Jobless Claims Plunge on Auto Industry and Holiday Adjustments

First-time claims for unemployment insurance fell 35,000 for the week ended July 21 to 353,000, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.dol.gov/ reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected 380,000 initial claims. The prior week's total was revised up to 388,000 from the originally reported 386,000.


Continuing claims â€" reported on a one-week lag â€" fell 30,000 to 3,287,000 from the prior week's 3,317,000, revised from the originally reported 3,314,000.

The surprisingly strong report came just two weeks after initial claims had plunged to a four-year low â€" 352,000 â€" reflecting seasonal adjustments to account for annual auto industry furloughs as car makers retool for a new model year. The changes in the auto industry calendar have now confounded forecasters. The unadjusted initial claims data showed a drop of 118,201 first time claims to 337,059 â€" about 30,000 below the number of unadjusted filings in the same week last year. The unadjusted continuing claims data fell 26,780.

The roller-coaster claims data continue to reflect the backlog from the July 4 holiday. While newly unemployed individuals can file claims online even when office are closed, clerical staff is not available to process those filings and report them during holiday periods.


This week's report included the revised numbers for the same period â€" the week of the month including the 12th calendar day â€" used by the ""Bureau of Labor Statistics"":http://www.bls.gov/ in deriving the monthly payroll jobs report and monthly unemployment rate. The Employment Situation report is scheduled for release August 3. Even with the wide swings in initial claims, first time claims for the mid-month reference week in July were down 4,000 from mid-month June.

The four-week moving average of initial claims â€" a statistical device used to smooth the more volatile weekly data -- fell 8,750 to 367,250 from 376,000 to the lowest level since the end of March.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell 3,750 to 3,309,000

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs â€" reported on a two-week lag - for the week ending July 7 was 6,034,225, an increase of 280,405 from the previous week. These data are not seasonally adjusted and were affected by the same factors which caused claims to move sharply when auto industry furloughs kicked in. According to the latest BLS report, 12.749 million people were officially counted as unemployed in June.

States reported 2,556,456 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending July 7, an increase of 32,093 from the prior week, the Labor Department said. There were 3,172,428 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 July 14 were in California (+26,244), North Carolina (+11,948), Georgia (+8,372), Alabama (+4,148), and Oregon (+3,019), while the largest decreases were in New York (-10,794), Michigan (-7,453), Kentucky (-4,904), Pennsylvania (-4,186), and Ohio (-3,120).

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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