WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits were only slightly higher than expected in the April 13 employment survey week, rising by 4,000 to 352,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The claims level was up 11,000 from the 341,000 level in the March 16 employment survey week.

Expectations for this week's report was for a claims level of 350,000, a rise of 4,000 from the previously reported 346,000 level in April 6 week. The initial claims level in that week was revised up only modestly to 348,000.

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average rose 2,750 to 361,250 in the April 13 week, the fourth straight increase in the moving average after four straight declines. This puts the four-week moving average only 1,000 below its most recent high of 362,250 in the February 16 week and up 20,500 from the 340,750 level in the March 16 employment survey week.

A Labor Department analyst said that two states were estimated in the current week, though the reasons are unclear. California provided its own estimate based on daily totals, while Kentucky's data was estimated by the Labor Department.

The analyst said that seasonal adjustment factors had expected a 1.5% decline in unadjusted claims, or roughly 5,000, in the April 13 week. Instead, unadjusted claims fell only 0.4%, or 1,269, to 354,973. That level is below the 370,482 level reported in the comparable week a year ago.

The state data released for the April 6 week indicated unadjusted initial claims increased in 44 states and declined in 9 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 3.068 million after seasonal adjustment in the April 6 week, a decline of 35,000 from the previous week.

The level of unadjusted continuing claims fell 117,109 to 3,175,060 in the April 6 week, still well below the 3,448,040 level in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment held steady at 2.4% in the April 6 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 54,999 to 1,782,555 in the March 30 week.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 5,152,655 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the March 30 survey week, a decline of 124,867 from the previous week, and still well below the 6,795,119 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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