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Initial Unemployment Claims Rise For Third Straight Week

According to data released today by the ""U.S. Department of Labor"":www.dol.gov/, first time claims for unemployment insurance rose 8,000 in the week ended March 2. The report marks the third straight weekly increase, following revisions to earlier statistics.

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Continuing claims, reported on a one-week lag, increased 10,000 to hit 3,416,000, representing the second straight weekly increase. The four week moving average for initial claims edged up modestly to 355,000 from 354750 while the average for continuing claims fell.

The three week ""losing streak"" for first-time claims ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô which could be undone by later revisions - was the longest since July 2010, but the rise, which comes after a steady drop in claims, is troublesome.

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It brings to mind a similar pause in improvement from early 2011 when, after declining at a consistent pace, claims began to increase. Totals from February of 2011 jumped from 391,000 to 478,000 by the end of April.

The total number of people collecting benefits under emergency programs declined as expected as Congress capped the length of emergency programs. Against recent data showing just under 13 million people as officially considered unemployed, the total number of individuals collecting under all programs stands at just under 7.4 million.

The claims report will have no impact on the employment data to be released Friday, which will detail payroll jobs and the unemployment rate for February. The Employment Situation report is based on data collected during the week of the month which includes the twelfth calendar day. The claims report released today was for a later week in the month and could auger disappointing news in the March employment report, to be released at the beginning of April.

According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag, the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending February 25 were in Massachusetts (+3,475), Rhode Island (+1,275), New Jersey (+1,274), Connecticut (+1,186), and Michigan (+564). The largest decreases were in California (-4,531), Pennsylvania (-2,238), Texas (-1,535), New York (-1,321), and Florida (-1,124).

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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