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Initial Jobless Claims Continue Steady Climb

First-time claims for unemployment insurance increased 4,000 for the week ended Aug. 18 to 372,000, the highest level in a month, 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 368,000 from the originally reported 366,000.


Continuing claims â€" reported on a one-week lag â€" increased 4,000 to 3,317,000 from the prior week's 3,313,000, revised from the originally reported 3,305,000.

This week's report covers the same week used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to generate the employment situation release reporting the unemployment rate. The BLS report will be published September 7. From mid-July to mid-August, first time claims are down 16,000. The mid-July numbers were compressed due to annual summer furloughs in the auto industry. The data continue to suggest high levels of layoffs which would depress the payroll report for August.

First-time claims have increased in four of the last six weeks. The increase in continuing claims was the second in the last three weeks, a net increase of 37,000 in that period.

Reports of initial claims are usually revised â€" and usually upward. The increase to the original report of claims for the previous week marked the 29th time in the 32 weeks this year that claims numbers have been revised upward.

The four-week moving average of first time claims increased to 368,000, an increase of 3,750, the second increase in the last three weeks and only the second in the last nine weeks, suggesting recent bumps up could be change a labor sector trend. The four week moving average of continuing claims increased 6,500 to 3,311,500 the highest level since the beginning of July.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs â€" reported on two week lag -- for the week ending August 4 was 5,594,498, a decrease of 109,812 from the previous week. Most of the decline â€" 62,401 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 2,326,635 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending August 4, a decrease of 47,334 from the prior week, the Labor Department said. There were 3,086,781 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 11 were in California (+7,941), Puerto Rico (+1,980), Oregon (+755), Idaho (+527), and Connecticut (+306), while the largest decreases were in Michigan (-2,324), Pennsylvania (-1,879), Indiana (-1,485), Illinois (-1,223), and Massachusetts (-1,212).

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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