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Initial Unemployment Dip But Remain Elevated

First time claims for unemployment insurance remained over 380,000 for the second straight week for the week ended April 14, the ""Labor Department "":http://www.dol.gov/ reported Thursday, the highest levels of the year.

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According to the report there were 386,000 initial claims, down from the revised 388,000 one week earlier The prior week's report was adjusted upward by 8,000.

Economists had expected initial claims would decrease to 365,000. Continuing claims, reported on a one-week lag, increased 26,000 to 3,297,000 for the week ended April 7, the first increase in six weeks.

The previous week's report of 3,251,000 individuals receiving benefits was revised up to 3,371,000. 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 Labor Department routinely revises data in this report. For each of the previous four weeks, the initially reported tally of first time claims was revised upward.

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The four-week moving average for initial claims jumped to 374,750, up 5,500, the highest level since the end of January. The four week average for continuing claims dropped 21,500 to 3,317,750.

Initial claims ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô despite some bumps ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô had been slowly trending downward but sizable increase two weeks ago ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô 26,000 - recalls a similar trend in early 2011 when first time claims began to increase after a slow, steady decline.

Coupled with the report showing a disappointing increase in payroll jobs, the initial claims data suggest excruciatingly slow labor market recovery may have stalled.

This report covers the same ""reference"" week used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in compiling the monthly employment situation report. The employment report for April will be released May 4.

The number of people collecting benefits under all unemployment insurance programs, reported on a two-week lag, fell 187,807 to 6,765,080. That tally though includes data from non-seasonally adjusted reports making conclusions less certain.

It also reflects new caps on the duration of unemployment benefits enacted when Congress approved the extension of the payroll tax suspension. 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 April 7 were in Pennsylvania (+7,483), California (+6,587), Washington (+5,985), New Jersey (+5,735), and Indiana (+4,984), while the largest decreases were in Tennessee (-670), Vermont (-78), and North Dakota (-49).

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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