WASHINGTON — An unexpected jump in initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits was reported for the May 25 week, rising by 10,000 to 354,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Meanwhile continuing claims for unemployment benefits rose in the May 18 week — when the survey for the employment report was conducted — increasing by 63,000.

Expectations in an MNI survey of analysts was for a claims level of 340,000, the same level as initially reported in the May 18 employment survey week. The initial claims level in that week was revised up by 4,000 to 344,000.

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average rose for the third straight week, up by 6,750 to 347,250 in the May 25 week.

A Labor Department analyst said five states were estimated in the report. Virginia and Wyoming provided their own estimates, while Hawaii, Minnesota and Oregon had their claims data estimated by the Labor Dept.

The analyst said there was no particular reason for the jump in claims, and that "nothing has come in so far" about a possible impact from the ferocious tornadoes that ravaged Oklahoma this past week.

The analyst said seasonal adjustment factors had expected a 1.4% rise in unadjusted claims — a little over 4,000 claims — in the May 25 week. Instead, unadjusted claims rose 4.5%, or 13,653, to 317,732. That level is below the 346,260 level reported in the comparable week a year ago.

The state data released for the May 18 survey week indicated unadjusted initial claims increased in 26 states and declined in 27 states, with no states unchanged. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands are included in this data.

The level of continuing claims rose by 63,000 to 2.986 million after seasonal adjustment in the May 18 employment survey week. In a survey week comparison, continuing claims are down 21,000 compared to the April 13 survey week (3.007 million).

The level of unadjusted continuing claims rose 15,423 to 2,792,143 in the May 18 week, but still below the 3,060,148 level in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment held steady at 2.3% in the May 18 week, 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 plunged 50,027 to 1,726,659 in the May 11 week.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 4,578,592 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the May 11 week, a decline of 166,659 from the previous week, and well below the 6,138,246 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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