WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits rose slightly more than expected in the August 17 employment survey week, increasing by 13,000 to 336,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The 4-week moving average remained at its lowest level in almost six years.

Expectations for this week's report was for a claims level of 330,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previously reported 320,000 level in August 10 week. Claims in that week were revised up to a 323,000 level.

The August 17 week was when the survey for the national employment report was conducted, and the initial jobless claims level is the same as that reported for the July 13 survey week.

A Labor Department analyst said no states were estimated in the current week, adding that "there are no specific factors we can communicate to explain the increase (in initial claims).

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average fell 2,250 to 330,500 in the August 17 week, its sixth straight decline to again the lowest level since the week of November 17, 2007 (330,000).

The analyst said that seasonal adjustment factors had expected a 5.2% drop in unadjusted claims, around 14,845, in the Aug. 17 week. Instead, unadjusted claims fell at a slower pace of 1.4%, or 3,997, to 279,026. That level is below the 311,857 level reported in the comparable week a year ago.

The state data released for the August 10 week indicated unadjusted initial claims increased in 25 states and declined in 28 states, with none unchanged. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands are included in this data.

The level of continuing claims came in at 2.999 million after seasonal adjustment in the August 10 week, an increase of 29,000 from the previous week.

The level of unadjusted continuing claims rebounded by 16,087 to 2,876,094 in the August 10 week, below the 3,167,174 level in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment was unchanged at 2.3% in the August 10 week from the previous week, remaining 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 the level of unadjusted Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits claims plunged in the August 3 week, down 51,842 to 1,501,068.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 4,438,656 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the Aug. 3 week, a decline of 148,207 from the previous week, and below the 5,594,498 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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