WASHINGTON - Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits rose by 4,000 to 372,000 in the August 18 employment survey week, higher than expected, after an upward revision to the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The current week's level of claims was lower by 16,000 from the 388,000 level in the July 14 employment survey week.

The median estimate of economists surveyed by MNI was for 365,000, a decline of 1,000 from the initially reported 366,000 level in the August 11 week. That week's claims level was revised up to 388,000.

A Labor Department analyst said there was nothing unusual in this week's report, characterizing August as the "summer doldrums" and saying there was nothing education related.

Unadjusted claims fell 7,320 to a level of 310,121 in the August 18 week. Unadjusted claims were at a level of 344,870 in the comparable week a year ago.

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average was 368,000 in the August 18 week, an increase of 3,750 claims from the previous week.

The state data released for the August 11 week indicated unadjusted initial claims increased in 22 states and declined in 30 states, with only one state unchanged. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands are included in this data.

Continuing claims came in at 3.317 million after seasonal adjustment in the August 11 week, higher by 4,000 from the previous week. Unadjusted continuing claims fell 15,192 to 3,164,819 in the week, still below the 3,557,586 level in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate held steady at 2.6% for the 22nd straight week in the August 11 week, still down from the 3.0% 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 47,334 in the August 4 week, bringing that category total to 2,326,635. Extended benefits claims fell by 987 to 4,236 not seasonally adjusted in the same week. Idaho is the only state still receiving extended benefits but that will expire next week, however the labor analyst said there will still be some residual. He added that it is possible but not likely that some states go back on extended benefits in October or November depending on their state unemployment rate but they are not projecting that.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 5,594,498 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the August 4 week, a decline of 109,812 from the previous week and still well below the 7,289,019 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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