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First-Time Jobless Claims Post Sharp Correction

After spiking one week ago, first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell sharply to 346,000 for the week ending April 6, a drop of 42,000, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.ows.doleta.gov/press/2013/041113.asp reported Thursday. Economists expected claims to fall to 365,000.


Initial jobless claims for the week ending March 30 were revised up to 388,000 from the originally reported 385,000, increasing an unexpected 31,000 from one week earlier.

The number of continuing claims for the week ending March 30, reported on a one-week lag, fell 12,000 to 3,079,000. Continuing claims for the week ending March 23 were revised up to 3,091,000 from the originally reported 3,063,000.

The 42,000 week-over-week drop in initial claims filings was the steepest since April 11, 2009 (when claims fell 54,000 for the week) and underscores the volatility of this weekly report. But just like the sharp jump in claims one week ago, data for this report was affected by a wide swing in the seasonal adjustment factor, which the Labor Department applies to account for predictable, recurring events that affect actual filings such as holiday periods. The adjustment factor for the week ending March 30 was 81.6, while the adjustment factor for the week ended April 6 was 102.4. A factor above 100 would reduce the raw data, while a factor below 100 would increase it. The lower the factor is, the higher the reported number.

The period covered by this week's reported included the Easter holiday, while the report for week ended April 11, 2009 was just before Easter that year.

The four-week moving average of first-time claims increased 3,000 to 358,000, the third straight week that the moving average has gone up. The four-week moving average of continuing claims increased 5,250 to 3,079,250, the first weekly increase in that moving average since the end of January.

The continuing claims data series tracks the number of individuals who have been receiving unemployment benefits for two or more weeks and often shows large movements, depending on first time claims 26 weeks earlier and legislative changes to state unemployment programs. It is subject to wider revisions than the number of first-time claimants.

The Labor Department offered some additional geographic detail for the spike in claims for the week ending March 30. Initial claim filings increased 3,015 in Pennsylvania that week, with layoffs in the transportation, construction, entertainment, lodging and food service, and healthcare and social services industries, the department said. There were 2,409 new filings in New Jersey that week, the department said, due to layoffs in the educational service, transportation and warehousing, and accommodation and food service industries. There were 2,149 new first-time claims filed in Illinois as a result of layoffs in the construction, manufacturing, and transportation industries, the department said.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending March 23, the Labor Department reported, was 5,277,512, down 10,573 from the previous week. There were 6,952,894 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012. Extended Benefits were available only in Alaska during the week ending March 23.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11,742,000 persons were officially considered unemployed in February, which means that of those individuals counted as unemployed, 6.46 million were not receiving any form of government unemployment insurance, down from 6.74 million one week earlier.

The Labor Department said states reported 1,837,554 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending March 23, an increase of 37,929 from the prior week. There were 2,794,553 persons claiming EUC in the comparable week in 2012.

States continue to borrow from the federal government to cover shortfalls in those funds which will eventually have to be repaid--unless Congress intervenes--with higher assessments on employers. Since those assessments are a percentage of payrolls, they discourage employers from adding new workers. As of April 9, 23 states had borrowed a total of $29.6 billion. One week earlier, 23 states had an aggregate $29.0 billion in outstanding loans to cover shortfalls. Six states--California, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Ohio--owe more than $1 billion, which may require higher unemployment premiums or special assessments on employers in those states.

According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag, the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending March 30 were in Pennsylvania (+3,015), New Jersey (+2,409), Illinois (+2,149), Kentucky (+1,718), and Wisconsin (+1,583), while the largest decreases were in Texas (-3,489), California (-2,661), North Carolina (-1,601), and Arkansas (-1,221).

_Hear Mark Lieberman Friday on P.O.T.U.S. radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:20 a.m. and again at 9:20 a.m. Eastern time._

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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