WASHINGTON — Initial claims for state unemployment decreased 21,000 to 336,000 in the Dec. 29 week, the Labor Department reported Thursday morning. Expectations had been for 345,000. The previous week’s initial claims level was upwardly revised to 357,000 from the originally reported 349,000 level, the highest level reported since Oct. 2005. A Labor Department analyst said that although there were no special factors affecting the Dec. 29 week’s initial claims data, many states estimated “large changes” due to expected short-term layoffs that are typical in the holiday week. Seasonals had expected initial unadjusted claims to increase by 18.8% but they actually increased by 11.9% in the Dec. 29 week to a level of 510,652 thousand. There were 499,979 thousand unadjusted claims in the comparable week a year ago. The four-week moving average was 343,750, a slight decrease of 750 from the previous week’s level 343,500. The level of continuing claims increased 46,000 to 2.761 million in the Dec. 22 week. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.1% in the Dec. 22 week, up from 2.0% in the previous week but above the comparable week a year ago when the rate was 1.9%. 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.

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