WASHINGTON — Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 18,000 to 365,000 in the May 3 week, while continuing claims held above three million, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

A Labor analyst cited “no special factors” for the May 3 week.

Analysts had expected initial jobless claims to fall to 376,000. The previous week’s initial claims level was revised up to 383,000 from the original 380,000.

Seasonal adjustment factors had expected a rise of 3.3% in unadjusted initial claims for the May 3 week, but actually got a 1.6% decline, or 5,422 to 332,984. This is still well above the 274,801 level in the comparable week a year ago, but slightly below the 336,319 in the comparable week in the 2001 recessionary year.

The four-week moving average rose 2,500 to 367,000 in the May 3 week.

Continuing claims for the April 26 week fell 10,000 to 3.020 million. However, the four-week average rose 16,750 to 2.999 million, the highest in four years and just under the three million point.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate held steady at 2.3% in the April 26 week, but was up from 1.9% 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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