Initial claims for state unemployment fell 12,000 in the March 14 week to 646,000 after adjustment, below analysts’ expectations, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

A Market News International survey had expected the initial claims level to be up 3,000 to 657,000 from the originally reported 654,000 — revised to 658,000 — in the March 7 week, with forecasts ranging from 575,000 to 690,000.

A Labor Department analyst said the March 14 week report was “a fairly straightforward report,” with only Puerto Rico providing an estimate and no special factors.

The four-week moving average for initial claims in the March 14 week rose 3,750 to 654,750, the highest rate since late 1982.

Seasonal adjustment factors had expected a 47,000 or 7.3% decrease, the analyst said, but fell instead by a 9.0% or 58,515.

“Since we got a bigger decline than was expected, the seasonally adjusted number is going down,” he said. “Other than that, no special factors, no real news.”

In the March 7 week, continuing claims climbed further above the five million mark to set another record at 5.473 million.

— Market News International

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