WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment fell 9,000 to 348,000 in the Feb. 9 week, continuing a decline after spiking two weeks ago, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

The previous week’s initial claims level was revised up to 357,000 from the previously reported 356,000 level.

A Labor analyst said that there were no special factors and that all states had reported their data in the current week. The analyst said there was “no current backlog” in states reporting and that the department emphasized in a “strict talking to” with state offices that it is focused on the statistics for claims taken and less concerned about administrative issues.

Seasonals had expected initial unadjusted claims to fall by 1.1% after the previous week’s decline, but unadjusted claims actually fell 3.6%, or 13,815, in the Feb. 9 week to a level of 366,237. There were 363,018 unadjusted claims in the comparable week a year ago.

The four-week moving average in the Feb. 9 week was 347,250, a rise of 12,000 from the previous week’s level and the highest level since October 2005.

The level of continuing claims fell 9,000 to 2.615 million in the Feb. 2 week.

— Market News International

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