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Initial Jobless Claims Lower Than Expected

First-time claims for unemployment insurance fell 6,000 for the week ended August 4 to 361,000, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.dol.gov/ reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected 367,000 initial claims. The prior week's total was revised up to 367,000 from the originally reported 365,000.


Continuing claims â€" reported on a one-week lag â€" rose 53,000 to 3,332,000 from the prior week's 3,279,000, revised from the originally reported 3,272,000.

While the drop in initial claims was good news for a labor market said to be recovering, the sharp increase in continuing claims underscored the difficult labor market. The jump in continuing claims â€" the steepest week-week rise since the end of May â€" came just two days after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a four year high in the number of job openings.

Continuing claims moved to the highest level since the end of May.

This week's report will have no effect on the Employment Situation report on the nation's unemployment rate for August. That report, to be released September 7, will be based on data for the week of the month including the 12th calendar day.

The four-week moving average of initial claims â€" a statistical device used to smooth the more volatile weekly data - rose 2,250 to 368,250 from 366,000 to the lowest level since the end of March.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose 4,500 to 3,304,750.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs â€" reported on two week lag - for the week ending July 21 was 5,750,084, a decrease of 214,367 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, 12.794 million people were officially counted as unemployed in June.

States reported 2,412,938 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending July 21, a decrease of 119,890 from the prior week, the Labor Department reported. There were 3,158,312 claimants in the comparable week in 2011.

According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag largest increases in initial claims for the week ending July 28 were in New York (+3,250), Washington (+485), Nebraska (+136), Mississippi (+111), and Connecticut (+46), while the largest decreases were in Kentucky (-4,884), California (-4,738), Georgia (-2,206), Florida (-1,840), and Ohio (-1,810).

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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