WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits fell more than expected in the July 13 employment survey week, declining by 24,000 to 334,000 to more than reverse the previous week's rise, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Claims in the previous week were revised down to a 358,000 level, a rare downward revision. Still, claims that week were up 14,000 from the previous week, with unadjusted state data for that week showing a sharp rise in manufacturing layoffs in Michigan.

While seasonal factors expect unadjusted claims to rise in the first two weeks of July due to auto retooling shutdowns, it appears that much of the gain this year was in the first week of July, and less layoffs than seasonal factors expected in the second week.

These shutdowns typically last through mid-month, so a decline in unadjusted initial claims is likely in the July 20, which seasonal adjustment factors would expect.

The level of initial claims was down 21,000 from the 355,000 level in the June 15 survey week level.

Expectations for this week's report was for a claims level of 340,000, a decrease of 20,000 from the previously reported 360,000 level in July 6 week.

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average fell 5,250 to 346,000 in the July 13 week.

A Labor Department analyst said that there were no states estimated in the current week.

The analyst said that seasonal adjustment factors had expected a 14.2% rise in unadjusted claims, or roughly 54,000, in the July 13 week. Instead, unadjusted claims rose only 6.6%, or 25,350, to 408,710. That level is below the 455,260 level reported in the comparable week a year ago.

The state data released for the July 6 week indicated unadjusted initial claims increased in 32 states and declined in 21 states, with no states unchanged. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands are included in this data.

The level of continuing claims came in at 3.114 million after seasonal adjustment in the July 6 week, a rise of 91,000 from the previous week.

The level of unadjusted continuing claims surged 333,812 to 3,144,838 in the July 6 week, still below the 3,360,067 level in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rose to 2.4% in the July 6 week from 2.3% in the previous week, but still 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 fell 24,152 to 1,636,731 in the June 29 week.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 4,519,501 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the June 29 week, a 1,903 decline from the previous week, and still well below the 5,753,820 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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