Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 13,000 to 432,000 in the Aug. 16 week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, coming off its recent peak, but up 60,000 from the July 12 employment survey week level.

The four-week moving average rose 7,250 to 445,750 in the Aug. 16 week, the highest level since the Dec. 1, 2001 week, when the four-week average stood at 453,750.

Continuing claims for the Aug. 9 week fell 17,000 to 3.362 million after spiking in the previous week. Continuing claims have stayed above the three million mark since the April 19 week.

The four-week average for continuing claims rose 66,250 to 3.330 million in the Aug. 9 week, the highest since the Nov. 19, 2003 week, when it was 3.360 million.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate held steady at 2.5% in the Aug. 9 week, still up sharply from 1.9% a year ago.

— Market News International

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