WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits were higher than expected in the July 6 holiday week, jumping by 16,000 to 360,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Expectations for this week's report were for a claims level of 345,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previously reported 343,000 level in June 29 week. The initial claims level in that week was revised up very slightly to 344,000.

A Labor Department analyst said that seasonal adjustment is typically difficult in July due to the traditional auto sector layoffs, school closings, and the holiday that occurs early in the month. As a result, large movements in the seasonally adjusted level are common.

The analyst said that seasonal adjustment factors had expected a 9.9% rise in unadjusted claims, or roughly 32,024, in the July 6 week. Instead, unadjusted claims rose 14.9%, or 49,778, to 384,829. That level is still well below the 442,192 level reported in the comparable week a year ago.

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average rose 6,000 to 351,750 in the July 6 week after declining in the previous two weeks.

The state data released for the June 29 week indicated unadjusted initial claims increased in 33 states and declined in 20 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 2.977 million after seasonal adjustment in the June 29 week, a rise of 24,000 from the previous week.

Even with that rise, the 4-week moving average for continuing claims fell 3,500 to 2.971 million, the lowest level since 2.970 million in the May 3, 2008 week.

The level of unadjusted continuing claims fell 16,079 to 2,768,879 in the June 29 week, below the 3,112,199 level in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment held steady at 2.3% in the June 29 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 fell 22,877 to 1,644,987 in the June 22 week.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 4,505,508 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the June 22 week, a 52,257 decline from the previous week, and still well below the 5,874,101 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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