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First-Time Jobless Claims Up, Still Below Expectations

First-time claims for unemployment insurance increased 5,000 to 333,000 for the week ending August 3, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.ows.doleta.gov/press/2013/080813.asp reported Thursday. Economists expected the number of claims to drop to climb to 336,000 from the 326,000 originally reported for the week ending July 27. The number of filings for that week was revised to 328,000, the lowest level since early May.

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The number of persons continuing to collect unemployment insurance for the week ending July 27, reported on a one-week lag, increased 67,000 to 3,018,000. The number of continuing claims for the week ending July 20 was unchanged at 2,951,000.

Thursday's report on first-time claims was consistent with a trend--reflected in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reported earlier this week--showing a sharp decline in layoffs and discharges, events which lead to unemployment insurance claims.

This week’s report on initial claims, though, will have no impact on the August Employment Situation report scheduled to be released September 6 by BLS. That report will be based on employment data for the week including the 12th calendar day of the month. The report on unemployment claims to be released in two weeks will cover that week.

The week-over-week increase in initial claims came despite favorable seasonal adjustment factors that will continue through mid-October. Those factors, which take into account predictable, recurring events that affect unemployment insurance claims, are set at the beginning of the year.

The four-week moving average of first-time claims for the week ending August 3 was 335,500, down 6,250 from the previous week. The four-week average of continuing claims--also on a one-week lag--dropped 2,250 to 3,023,750.

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The drop in initial claims continued a seesaw pattern for this data set. First-time claims have alternated decreasing and increasing since the end of June. In the three weeks in which claims have risen since the end of June, the average increase has been about 9,300; in the weeks in which claims fell, the average decline has been about 14,300.

The weekly increase in continuing claims was the first in three weeks; continuing claims fell 120,000 for the week ending July 13 and 52,000 for the week ending July 20. They were affected in part by annual furloughs in the auto industry as plants shut down from retooling for a new model year.

The Labor Department said the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending July 20 was 4,520,948, a decrease of 174,418 from the previous week. There were 5,750,327 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012.

According to the BLS, 11,514,000 persons were officially considered unemployed in July, with 4,246,000 ""long-term"" unemployed--that is, out of work for at least 27 weeks. Of those individuals counted as unemployed, 6.99 million were not receiving any form of government unemployment insurance for the week ending July 20, down from 7.08 million one week earlier.

The Labor Department said states reported 1,516,275 persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending July 20, a decrease of 48,242 from the prior week. There were 2,412,938 persons claiming EUC in the comparable week in 2012. EUC benefits this year were directly threatened by the federal budget sequester.

According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag, the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending July 27 were in Idaho (+264), Wisconsin (+179), South Dakota (+115), Arkansas (+90), and Hawaii (+61), while the largest decreases were in California (-21,479), Michigan (-8,647), Missouri (-3,208), Georgia (-2,951), and Texas (-2,782).

California reported the decrease in first-time claims for the week ended July 20 was attributable to fewer layoffs in the service sector. Georgia and Pennsylvania cited fewer layoffs in the construction sector as well as manufacturing. Missouri, South Carolina, and New York also reported fewer manufacturing layoffs.

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

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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