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Initial Unemployment Claims Again Hit Four Year Low

First time claims for unemployment insurance fell 6,000 to 357,000 by the end of March, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.dol.gov/ reported Thursday.


The previous week's report were revised upward to show a jump by the end of March to 363,000 instead of the originally reported 357,000. Nonetheless ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô subject to revisions ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the new current week's total represented a four year low.

Economists had expected initial claims would increase to 355,000.

Continuing claims, reported on a one-week lag, also fell, dropping 16,000 to 3,338,000 for the week ended March 24, the third straight week-week decline. The previous week's report of 3,340,000 individuals receiving benefits was revised up to 3,354,000.

That revision is significant because continuing claims reflect the other part of the employment picture and often reflects hiring trends. The revised data were for the week ended March 17, the ""reference""


week used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the monthly unemployment rate. That report is to be released Friday. With the revision, the report showed continuing claims down 63,000 from mid-February. February continuing claims were down 124,000 from mid-January.

The Labor Department routinely revises data in this report. For each of the last three weeks, the initially reported tally of first time claims has represented a four year low.

The four week moving average for initial claims improved to 361,750, down 4,250 from the previous week while the four week average for continuing claims declined 24,000 to 3,367,750.

Initial claims ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô with some bumps ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ôremain on a steady downward and have fallen wee-week for six weeks in the first quarter suggesting the pace of layoffs has slowed. Continuing claims have also decline been falling steadily, dropping wee-week for eight of the 12 week reported for the first quarter.

The number of people collecting benefits under all unemployment insurance programs, reported on a two-week lag, fell 107,760 to 7,050,709. That tally though includes data from non-seasonally adjusted reports making conclusions less certain. According to the latest BLS report, 7.24 million people were officially counted as unemployed.

According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag, the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending March 24 were in Texas (+4,185), California (+2,199), Kansas (+1,555), Arkansas (+1,141), and Washington (+714), while the largest decreases were in Pennsylvania (-1,956), North Carolina (-1,656), New Jersey (-1,511), Massachusetts (-1,083), and Hawaii (-650).