WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits were down more than expected in the November 16 week, dropping by 21,000 to 323,000 for the week including Veterans Day, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Expectations for this week's report were for a claims level of 335,000, a decline of 4,000 from the previously reported 339,000 level in November 9 week. The initial claims level in that week was revised up by 5,000 to 344,000. The latest claims total was the lowest since the Sept. 28 week when it was 308,000.

A Labor Department analyst said that there were no special factors in the latest week, noting the Veteran's Day holiday fell on Nov. 11.

The latest results were for the reference week used for the monthly jobs report. A month earlier that reference week claims level was 362,000, seasonally adjusted and that may have reflected some catch-up applications in California recovering from earlier data processing glitches.

The analyst said that seasonal adjustment factors had expected a 5.4% decline in unadjusted claims, or 19.621. Instead there was an 11.3% drop of 40,996 in the November 16 week. That level is still well below the 403,637 level reported in the comparable week a year ago.

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average declined 6,750 to 338,500 from the previous week's revised 345,250.

The state data released for the November 9 week indicated unadjusted initial claims increased in 47 states and declined in six states. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands are included in this data.

The level of continuing claims came in at 2.876 million after seasonal adjustment in the November 9 week, an increase of 66,000 from the previous week.

The 4-week moving average for continuing claims rose 6,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,850,250 million.

The level of unadjusted continuing claims rose 44,428 to 322,510 in the November 9 week, below the 403,637 level in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment remained 2.2% in the November 9 week, and was 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 dropped 32,147 to 1,301,562 in the November 2 week.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 3,875,295 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the November 2 week, a 32,376 decrease from the previous week, and still well below the 5,241,438 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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