Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 10,000 to 425,000 in the Aug. 23 week, the Labor Department reported yesterday. The four-week moving average fell 6,000 to 440,250 in the week.

Continuing claims for the Aug. 16 week surged 64,000 to 3.423 million, the highest level since reaching 3.441 million in the week of Nov. 8, 2003. The level for the Aug. 16 week compares to 3.097 million in the July 12 survey week, a rise of 326,000.

The four-week average for continuing claims rose 36,250 to 3.366 million in the Aug. 16 week, the highest level since the Nov. 22, 2003, week, when it was 3.384 million.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate increased to 2.6% in the Aug. 16 week, still up sharply from 1.9% a year ago.

—Market News International

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