WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits fell by 6,000 to 361,000 in the August 4 week after a slight upward revision to the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The median estimate of economists surveyed by MNI was for 367,000, a rise of 2,000 from the initially reported 365,000 level in the July 28 week. That week's claims level was revised up to 367,000.

A Labor Department analyst said there was nothing unusual in the report and that no states were estimated.

The analyst said seasonal factors had expected a rise of about 3.4%, or 10,000, in unadjusted initial claims. Actual unadjusted claims rose by 1.6% or 4,934 to a level of 317,580. Unadjusted claims were at a level of 354,408 in the comparable week a year ago.

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average was 368,250 in the August 4 week, an increase of 2,250 claims from the previous week.

The state data released for the July 28 week indicated unadjusted initial claims increased in 11 states and declined in 41 states, with one state seeing no change. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands are included in this data.

Continuing claims came in at 3.332 million after seasonal adjustment in the July 28 week, up 53,000 from the previous week and the highest level seen since the March 24 week (3.349 million). Unadjusted continuing claims dipped by 7,551 to 3,239,100 in the week, still below the 3,580,433 level in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate held steady at 2.6% for the 20th straight week in the July 28 week, still down from the 2.9% rate in the comparable week a year earlier.

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 plunged by 119,890 in the July 21 week, bringing that category total to 2,412,938. Extended benefits claims fell by 6,861 to 6,346 not seasonally adjusted in the same week.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 5,750,084 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the July 21 week, a massive decline of 214,367 from the previous week, putting it well below the 7,478,181 persons 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.

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.

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