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Initial Jobless Claims Up for Fourth Straight Week

First time claims for unemployment insurance rose to 383,000 up from the prior week's 373,000, revised up from the previously reported 370,000, the ""Labor Department"":http://www.dol.gov/ reported Thursday.

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Economists had expected the report would be unchanged at 370,000 initial claims. The claims total was the highest in five weeks.

Continuing claims ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô reported on a one week lag ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô fell 36,000 to 3,242,000, down from an upwardly revised 3,278,000 one week earlier. The prior week's report had initially shown 3,260,000 continuing claims.

The increase in first time claims signaled a fourth straight weekly jump, the first time initial claims have risen for four weeks in a row since October-November 2008.

That the prior week's report was revised upward was no surprise: First time claims have been revised upward for all but three of the 20 weekly reports this year.

The weekly claims report released Thursday will have no impact on the monthly jobs and unemployment rate report to be released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That report is based on surveys conducted during the week of the month including the twelfth calendar day.

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Still Thursday's report ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and its trend ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô suggests the labor market has, at best, stalled, dashing hopes for a quick jobs recovery.

The drop in continuing claims, while encouraging, is not necessarily attributable to long-term jobless obtaining employment. Some of the decline is attributable to changes in the number of weeks those out of work can collect benefits. Those changes were enacted when Congress approved an extension of the payroll tax reduction in February.

Initial claims remain above 350,000, which economists consider a tipping point between an expanding and contracting jobs market. First time claims filings were last below 350,000 in March 2008.

The four week moving average for initial claims rose to 374,500, an increase of 3,750 from the preceding week and the first increase in four weeks. The four week average for continuing claims dropped 12,000 to 3,264,000.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô reported on a two-week lag - for the week ending May 12 was 6,137,862, a decrease of 30,753 from the previous week. According to the latest BLS report, 12.5 million people were officially counted as unemployed.

States reported 2,618,366 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending May 12, a decrease of 12,141 from the prior week, the Labor Department said. There were 3,416,540 claimants in the comparable week in 2011.

According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag, the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending May 19 were in California (+2,716), Texas (+1,648), South Carolina (+1,029), Florida (+913), and Maryland (+626), while the largest decreases were in Wisconsin (-1,240), Michigan (-716), Georgia (-691), Pennsylvania (-594), and Washington
(-447).

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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