WASHINGTON - Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 to 365,000 in the September 1 week, less than expected, after an upward revision to the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The median estimate of economists surveyed by MNI was for 370,000, a decline of 4,000 from the initially reported 374,000 level in the August 25 week. That week's claims level was revised up 3,000 to 377,000.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors and no indication that hurricane Isaac is impacting the claims data with Louisiana continuing to report jobless claims.

Unadjusted claims fell 4,280 to a level of 307,831 in the September 1 week. Unadjusted claims were at a level of 348,582 in the comparable week a year ago.

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average was 371,250 in the September 1 week, an increase of 250 claims from the previous week.

The state data released for the August 25 week indicated unadjusted initial claims increased in 27 states and declined in 25 states, with 1 state unchanged. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands are included in this data.

Continuing claims came in at 3.322 million after seasonal adjustment in the August 25 week, a decline of 6,000 from the previous week. Unadjusted continuing claims fell 39,314 to 3,075,994 in the week, and remains below the 3,436,188 level in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate held steady at 2.6% and is still down from the 3.0% rate in the comparable week a year earlier.

The unemployment rate among the insured labor force is well below 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.

The Labor Department said that the level of unadjusted Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits claims fell by 9,703 in the August 18 week, bringing that category total to 2,263,614. Extended benefits claims fell by 2,116 to 3,296 not seasonally adjusted in the same week.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 5,467,752 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the August 18 week, a decline of 63,076 from the previous week and still well below the 7,167,416 persons in the comparable week a year ago. These data are not seasonally adjusted, and include regular state claims, federal employee claims, new veterans claims, the EUC and extended benefits programs, state additional benefits, and STC/Workshare claims.

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.

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