WASHINGTON — Initial claims for state unemployment fell 9,000 to 349,000 in the Feb. 16 week, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

The previous week’s initial claims level was revised up to 358,000 from the previously reported 348,000 level.

A Labor analyst said there was “nothing really unusual” in the report this week, but noted that five states required estimates of their data and that California “had a shortened workweek” because it “had a holiday [President’s Day] in the reference week.”

Among the states requiring estimates, California and Virginia provided their own, while the Labor Department “performed estimates for” Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, the analyst said.

A comparison of survey weeks shows an increase of 49,000 from the 300,000 level reported in the Jan. 12 week.

Seasonals had expected initial unadjusted claims to fall by 12.7%, or around 48,000, but unadjusted claims actually fell 15.1%, or 56,851, in the Feb. 16 week to a level of 320,488. There were 305,945 unadjusted claims in the comparable week a year ago.

The four-week moving average in the Feb. 16 week was 360,500, a rise of 10,750 from the previous week’s level and again the highest level since October 2005.

The level of continuing claims rose 48,000 to 2.784 million in the Feb. 9 week. This was the highest level since 2.792 million was reported in the Oct. 15, 2005 week.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.1% in the Feb. 9 week, unchanged from the previous week and up from 1.9% in the comparable week a year ago.

The unemployment rate among the insured labor force is roughly half 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.

—Market News International

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