WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits fell by 11,000 to 346,000 in the June 1 holiday week, only slightly above expectations and with no estimated states included in the data, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Expectations for this week's report was for a claims level of 345,000, a decline of 9,000 from the previously reported 354,000 level in May 25 week. The initial claims level in that week was revised up to 357,000.

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average rose by 4,500 to 352,500 in the June 1 week, the fourth straight increase. However, the 363,000 level in the May 11 week will roll off the calculation next week, providing a chance for the average to decline with next week's data.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors in the June 1 week data, and there were no states estimated in the most recent week following several estimated states in the May 25 week due to the shorter reporting period.

The analyst said that seasonal adjustment factors had expected a 5.5%, or roughly 17,000, decline in unadjusted claims in the holiday week. Instead, unadjusted claims fell 8.5%, or 27,102, to 293,021. That level is below the 324,385 level reported in the comparable week a year ago.

The state data released for the May 25 week indicated unadjusted initial claims increased in 30 states and declined in 22 states, with 1 state unchanged. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands are included in this data.

The level of continuing claims came in at 2.952 million after seasonal adjustment in the May 25 week, a decline of 52,000 after rising by 81,000 in the previous week.

The level of unadjusted continuing claims fell 83,608 to 2,724,677 in the May 25 week, down from the 3,062,538 level in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment held steady at 2.3% in the May 25 week, well below the seasonally adjusted 2.6% rate in the comparable week a year earlier.

The unemployment rate among the insured labor force is well below that reported monthly by the Labor Department because claims are approved for the most part only for job losers, not the job leavers and labor force reentrants included in the monthly report.

The Labor Department said that the level of unadjusted Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits claims rose 33,934 to 1,760,593 in the May 18 week.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 4,646,761 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the May 18 week, a 68,169 increase from the previous week, but still well below the 5,970,572 persons in the comparable week a year ago. These data are not seasonally adjusted, and include regular state claims, federal employee claims, new veterans claims, the EUC and extended benefits programs, state additional benefits, and STC/Workshare claims.

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.

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