WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits rose by 4,000 to 367,000 in the September 29 week, slightly lower than expected and following an upward revision to the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The median estimate of economists surveyed by MNI was for 370,000, an increase of 11,000 from the initially reported 359,000 level in the September 22 week. That week's claims level was revised up by 4,000 to 363,000.

A Labor Department analyst said that seasonal factors expected a decline of 7,982 in unadjusted claims in the September 29 week. Instead, unadjusted claims fell 4,942 to a level of 298,743 in the current week. Unadjusted claims were at a level of 332,394 in the comparable week a year ago.

The analyst noted that there were no special factors in the current week's data and no states were estimate.

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average was 375,000 in the September 29 week, unchanged from the previous week.

The state data released for the September 22 week indicated unadjusted initial claims increased in 18 states and declined in 35 states, with no states unchanged. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands are included in this data.

Continuing claims came in at 3.281 million after seasonal adjustment in the September 22 week, unchanged from the previous week.

Unadjusted continuing claim fell by 26,169 to 2,815,352 in the week, and remains below the 3,165,909 level in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate held steady at 2.6%, as it has since March, and is 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 fell by 17,399 in the September 15 week, bringing that category total to 2,143,049.

Extended benefits claims rose by 18,828 to 21,384 in the September 15 week, due to the state of New York returning to the program starting September 9.

The state unemployment rate for New York rose about 8% and was more than 110% of the unemployment rate in the comparable period in at least one of the last three years, the analyst said, triggering the extended benefits. New York is the only state now eligible for this program, as Idaho dropped off recently.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 5,088,612 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the September 15 week, a decline of 85,386 from the previous week and still well below the 6,859,096 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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