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Declining Initial Unemployment Claims Reverse Trends

First time claims for unemployment insurance fell 14,000 in the week ended March 9, according to the ""Labor Department"":www.dol.gov/.


In a Thursday report, the bureau noted that the decline represents the first drop in four weeks.

Continuing claims, reported on a one-week lag, also fell, dropping 81,000 to 3,343,000, after two second straight weekly increases.

The four week moving average for initial claims was flat at 355,750, unchanged from the previous week while the four week average for continuing claims declined 25,250 to 3,394,250.

Data for the previous week in both categories were revised upward, boosting the decline. The drop in initial claims offset the increase over the previous three weeks.

The up and down in the weekly claim numbers is similar to the way the claims numbers moved last year when claims fell steadily only to from the beginning of February through the end of April.

The total number of people collecting benefits under emergency programs rose - but only due to regular state benefits. The number of people receiving emergency and extended benefits declined as expected as Congress capped the length of emergency programs. Against recent data showing about 12.8 million people are officially counted as unemployed, the total of people collecting under all programs is 7.24 million.

While this report will have no direct impact on the employment release to be issued for March to be issued April 6, which will be based on the unemployment data to be issued next week, it does continue to suggest or confirm an improving labor market.

Details from the Labor Department, also reported on a one-week lag, showed the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending March 3 were in New York (+16,478), California (+4,320), Pennsylvania (+2,859), Texas (+2,116), and Virginia (+1,554), while the largest decreases were in Massachusetts (-2,974), Rhode Island (-1,071), New Jersey (-1,034), Puerto Rico (-562), and Kentucky (-284).