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Initial Unemployment Claims Jump to 10-Week High

First time claims for unemployment insurance jumped 13,000 to 380,000 for the week ended in early April, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.dol.gov/ reported Thursday, the highest level since the end of January.


At the same time the previous week's report was adjusted upward by 10,000, wiping out what had been a four-year low and showing an increase of 4,000 initial claims instead of an originally reported drop of 6,000 for the week ending in late March.

Economists had expected initial claims would increase (from the original report) to 359,000.

Continuing claims, reported on a one-week lag, fell 98,000 to 3,251,000 for the week ending in late March, the fifth straight week-week decline and the lowest level since July 2008. The previous week's report of 3,338,000 individuals receiving benefits was revised up to 3,349,000. The week-week decline was the steepest since continuing claims fell 109,000 at the beginning of the year. Continuing claims data though are highly volatile, affected not only by hiring but by individuals who lose benefits because they stop looking for work.


The week-over-week jump in first time claims was the second straight and largest of the year.

The Labor Department routinely revises data in this report. For each of the previous four weeks, the initially reported tally of first time claims was reported as a four year low only to be revised upward.

The four-week moving average for initial claims improved to 368,550, up 4,250 from the previous week ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and the first increase in three weeks -- while the four week average for continuing claims dropped 35,750 to 3,334,250.

Initial claims ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô despite some bumps ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô had been slowly trending downward but the increase in the last two weeks recalls a similar trend in early 2011 when first time claims began to increase after a slow, steady decline. Coupled with last week's report showing a disappointing increase in payroll jobs, the initial claims data suggest the labor market is still in an excruciatingly slow recovery.

The number of people collecting benefits under all unemployment insurance programs, reported on a two-week lag, fell 97,833 to 6,952,876. That tally though includes data from non-seasonally adjusted reports making conclusions less certain. According to the latest BLS report, 12.67 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 31 were in Oregon (+2,079), Pennsylvania (+1,866), Illinois (+1,024), New Jersey (+725), and Alabama (+541), while the largest decreases were in Texas (-1,633), Florida (-1,556), New York (-1,216), Puerto Rico (-928), and Missouri (-754).

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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