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Initial Jobless Claims Move Up

First-time claims for unemployment insurance edged up 2,000 for the week ended Aug. 11 to 366,000, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.dol.gov/ reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected 365,000 initial claims. The prior week’s total was revised up to 364,000 from the originally reported 361,000.


Continuing claims â€" reported on a one-week lag â€" fell 31,000 to 3,305,000 from the prior week’s 3,336,000, revised from the originally reported 3,332,000.

The increase in first-time claims was the third in the last six weeks offering no clear picture of the stutter-step labor market. Initial claims have alternated, rising and falling in the last six weeks, but on net the level is up 14,000 from the beginning of July.

Claims reports, always subject to revision â€" generally upward â€" were affected at the beginning of the month by the auto sector which typically furloughs production workers â€" who collect unemployment insurance â€" to retool plants for new models. Stronger auto sales reduced furloughs but adjustment factors already built into the claims reporting process, nonetheless, reduced the non-seasonally adjusted levels to unusually low reports of seasonally adjusted data.

Despite the statistical glitches, the four-week moving average of first-time claims dropped to 363,750 for the period ended August 11, a decline of 5,500 and the lowest level since the end of March.

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. Claims data for that period will be released next week.

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 fell 3,000 to 3,303,000.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs â€" reported on two week lag - for the week ending July 28 was 5,680,545, a decrease of 69,785 from the previous week. Most of the decline â€" 62,736 â€" came in programs sharply reduced by Congress as part of the negotiations to continue the payroll tax holiday. According to the latest BLS report, 12.794 million people were officially counted as unemployed in June.

States reported 2,350,202 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending July 28, a decrease of 62,736 from the prior week, the Labor Department said. There were 3,130,608 persons claiming EUC 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 August 4 were in California (+3,069), Pennsylvania (+2,534), Illinois (+1,165), Ohio (+1,018), and Missouri (+935), while the largest decreases were in Michigan (-4,157), New York (-2,653), Puerto Rico (-1,394), Tennessee (-318), and Florida (-300).

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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