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First-Time Jobless Claims Hold at Pre-Recession Low

First-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending August 17 rose 13,000 to 336,000, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.ows.doleta.gov/press/2013/082213.asp reported Thursday. Economists expected the number of claims to rise to 330,000 from the 320,000 originally reported for the week ending August 10. The number of filings for that week was bumped up to 323,000.


Even with the weekly increase, the four-week moving average of first-time filings dropped to 330,500--remaining at the lowest level since November 2007, a month before the Great Recession began. The four-week average levels fluctuations in the volatile weekly claims filings.

The number of continuing claims--reported on a one-week lag--rose 29,000 to 2,999,000 for the week ending August 10. The number of continuing claims for the week ended August 3 was revised up to 2,970,000 from the originally reported 2,969,000.

The weekly reports of unemployment claims covered the same week used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for its monthly Employment Situation report. That report is scheduled for release September 7. It will be based on data for the week that includes the 12th day of the month.

Using those dates, initial claims were flat from July to August, though the four-week moving average dropped 16,000. Data on continuing claims for the mid-month ""reference week"" will be reported next week.

While a large part of the week-over-week increase in first-time claims is due to more layoffs, the report also reflects the seasonal adjustment factors applied by the Department of Labor for predictable and annually recurring events that affect claims. The adjustment factor for the week ending August 17 was 83.1 compared with 87.7 for the previous, which should have led to a drop in first-time claims--suggesting the report is weaker than even the numbers reflect.

The seasonal adjustment factors are published in advance by the Labor Department and will bottom at 78.1 in two weeks.

The weekly increase in initial claims--13,000--was the largest since early July, when filings increased 14,000. The decline in the four-week average was the sixth in a row.

The weekly bump in continuing claims, which largely reflects hiring, was the second in the last three weeks. Even with the increase, the four-week moving average of continuing claims has fallen a net 40,250 in that span.

The Labor Department said the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending August 3 was 4,438,656, a decrease of 148,207 from the previous week. There were 5,594,498 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012.

Extended Benefits were not available in any state during the week ending August 3. Extended benefits have been affected by the federal government sequestration. States responded to the reduced federal funds by either cutting the number of weeks of eligibility or lowering weekly payments.

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, 6.93 million were not receiving any form of government unemployment insurance for the week ending July 27, down from 6.99 million one week earlier.

The Labor Department reported 1,501,068 persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending August 3, a decrease of 51,842 from the prior week. There were 2,326,635 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 August 10 were in South Carolina (+907), New York (+762), Oregon (+685), Mississippi (+419), and Indiana (+400), while the largest decreases were in California (-4,105), Ohio (-1,554), Texas (-894), Florida (-881), and Georgia (-712).

California said the decrease in first-time claims for the week ending August 10 was attributable to fewer layoffs in the service sector, while Ohio cited fewer layoffs in manufacturing.

_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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