Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 20,000 in the April 4 week to 654,000, while continuing claims rose to another record high for the 10th week in a row, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

A Market News International survey had expected the initial claims level to rise to 664,000 this week from the originally reported 669,000 in the March 28 week.

In the March 28 week, continuing claims set another record high for the 10th consecutive week — heading towards the six million mark — rising by 95,000 to 5.840 million. Continuing claims were 2.923 million in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate again rose from  the prior week, this time to 4.4% in the March 28 week, the highest seen since the matching rate in April 9, 1983. It was 2.2% in the comparable  week a year ago.

— Market News International

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