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First-Time Unemployment Claims Tick Up

First-time claims for unemployment insurance increased for the fourth time in the last five weeks, edging up 4,000 for the week ending April 13 to 352,000, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.ows.doleta.gov/press/2013/041813.asp reported Thursday. Economists expected 347,000 initial claims. Initial jobless claims for the week ending April 6 were revised up to 348,000 from the originally reported 346,000.


The number of persons continuing to collect unemployment insurance--reported on a one week lag--fell 35,000 to 3,068,000. Continuing claims for the week ending March 30 were revised up to 3,103,000 from the originally reported 3,079,000, turning what had been a 12,000 decline into a 12,000 increase.

The four-week moving average of initial claims rose for the fourth straight week, increasing 2,750 to 361,250, the highest level since the beginning of the year. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell 2,250 to 3,083,000.

The week covered by the unemployment claims data is the same week used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for its monthly Employment Situation report to be released May 3. From mid-March to mid-April, the moving average of first-time unemployment claims increased 11,000, suggesting layoffs will be a drag on net new payroll jobs for April. For March, BLS reported the economy added a disappointing 88,000 payroll jobs.

The increase in claims could also send the unemployment rate up from the 51-month low 7.6 percent recorded for March.

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 [COLUMN_BREAK]

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 total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending March 30, the Labor Department reported, was 5,152,655, a decrease of 124,867 from the previous week. There were 6,765,119 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012.

According to the BLS, 11,742,000 persons were officially considered unemployed in February, which means that of those individuals counted as unemployed, 6.59 million were not receiving any form of government unemployment insurance, up from 6.46 million one week earlier.

The Labor Department said states reported 1,782,555 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending March 30, a decrease of 54,999 from the prior week. There were 2,775,134 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 15, 23 states had borrowed a total of $29.7 billion. One week earlier, 23 states had an aggregate $29.6 billion in outstanding loans to cover shortfalls. Seven states--California, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin--each 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 April 6 were in New York (+20,120), North Carolina (+4,403), Ohio (+3,029), Michigan (+2,894), and Texas (+2,445), while the largest decreases were in California (-12,893), Kentucky (-1,318), Pennsylvania (-1,299), Indiana (-1,066), and Nevada (-761).

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