Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits came in just under expectations in the June 29 week, falling 5,000 to 343,000, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.

Expectations for this week's report was for a claims level of 345,000, according to an MNI survey, which would have been a 1,000 drop from the initially reported 346,000 in the June 22 week. The prior week was revised up 2,000 to 348,000 according to the report.

Continuing claims fell 54,000 to 2.933 million from the revised 2.987 level in the prior week (previous 2.965 million).

The initial claims seasonally adjusted four-week moving average was barely changed, dropping just 750 to 345,500 from the previous week's revised level of 346,250 (previous 345,750).

The four-week average for continuing claims dropped to 2.969 million, its lowest level since April 26, 2008 when it was 2.964 million, the report said.

A Labor Department analyst said that there were no states estimated and nothing unusual in the state level data.

The analyst said that seasonal adjustment factors had expected a 0.6% increase in unadjusted claims, or roughly 2,086, in the June 29 week. Instead unadjusted claims fell 0.8%, or 2,595, to 333,920, resulting in the declining the seasonally-adjusted number. In the comparable week a year ago, unadjusted claims were 369,826.

The state data released for the June 22 week indicated unadjusted initial claims declined in 31 states and increased in 22 states, with no states unchanged. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands are included in this data.

The level of unadjusted continuing claims fell 42,033 to 2,766,055 in the latest week, far below the 3,145,031 level in the comparable week of 2012.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment held steady at 2.3% in the June 29 week, below the seasonally adjusted 2.6% rate in the comparable week a year ago.

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 39,245 to 1,677,864 in
the June 15 week.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 4,557,765 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the June 15 week, a 1,059 rise from  the previous week, but still well below the 5,857,081 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.

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