Initial claims for state unemployment fell back 31,000 in the Feb. 28 week to 639,000, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

A Market News International survey had expected the initial claims level to be 647,000 this week, with forecasts ranging from 625,000 to 675,000.

A Labor Department analyst said the Feb. 28 week report was “clean” with no state reporting estimates.

The four-week moving average for initial claims in the Feb. 28 week rose 2,000 to 641,750, a level last matched in the week ended Oct. 30, 1982.

Seasonal adjustment factors had expected a 10.8% increase or about 65,000 in unadjusted claims following the President’s Day holiday week. The actual figure was a rise of 5.8% or 34,933 to a level of 640,601, the Labor Department said. Unadjusted initial claims were at 345,165 a year ago.

In the Feb. 21 week, continuing claims remained above the five million mark — at 5.106 million — despite a decline of 14,000 from the record-high level of 5.120 million the previous week.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate remained stable at 3.8%, a cyclical high last matched in the July 2, 1983, week. It was 2.1% in the comparable week a year ago.

— Market News International

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