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Initial Unemployment Claims Dip

First time claims for unemployment insurance resumed their steady decline, dipping 1,000 to 367,000 for the week ended May 5, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.dol.gov/ reported Thursday after the previous week's total was revised upward by 3,000 to 368,000. The revised figure was the highest level in five months. Economists had expected initial claims would decrease to 366,000.


Continuing claims â€" reported on a one week lag â€" fell to 3,229,000), a drop of 61,000 from the prior week's revised figure of 3,290,000. The prior week's figure was revised upward from an originally reported 3,276,000. The decline in continuing claims was the seventh in the last nine weeks.

The revision to the initial claims report meant the week-over-week decline for the week ended April 28 was not the largest since a year as original data suggested. It was the largest week-over-week decline since January.

Initial claims though remain above 350,000, which economists consider a tipping point between an expanding and contracting jobs market. First time claims filings were last below 350,000 in March 2008.


Initial claims have been falling slowly but steadily since the beginning of 2011 with some occasional large jumps, followed by offsetting declines. Since 2011, first time claims have edged downward by an average of about 500 per week.

Today's initial claims data will have no impact on the Employment Situation report for May, which uses data from the week of the month including the 12th calendar day to determine the monthly unemployment rate and month-to-month change in payroll employment.

The four week moving average for initial claims fell for the first time since the end of March, dropping 5,250 to 379.000. The four week average for continuing claims dropped 10,500 to 3,279,000.

The total number of people collecting benefits under all unemployment insurance programs, reported on a two-week lag, fell 174,529 to 6,423.833. That tally reflects changes in unemployment insurance programs, capping the number of weeks benefits would be paid, enacted when Congress approved the extension of the payroll tax suspension. According to the latest BLS report, 12.5 million people were officially counted as unemployed.

States reported 2,688,157 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending April 21, a drop of 36,275 from the prior week, the Labor Department said. There were 3,415,581 claimants 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 April 28 were in Indiana (+2,294), Florida (+1,767), Illinois (+1,512), Pennsylvania (+1,121), and New Hampshire (+836), while the largest decreases were in New York (-21,258), California (-6,790), Massachusetts (-2,530), Georgia (-2,110), and Connecticut (-1,708).

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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