WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment increased 12,000 to 346,000 in the Dec. 15 week, the Labor Department reportedyesterday. The previous week’s initial claims level was upwardly revised to 334,000 from the originally reported 333,000 level. A comparison of employment survey weeks shows initial claims rose 17,000 in the Dec. 15 week vs. the 329,000 reported in the Nov. 17 week. Analysts expected initial jobless claims to rise 2,000 to 335,000 in the Dec. 15 employment survey week. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors that affected the Dec. 15 week’s initial claims data and the report followed seasonal expectations. Seasonals had expected initial unadjusted claims to drop by 10.8% but they actually fell by 7.7% in the Dec. 15 week to a level of 390,586. There were 361,672 unadjusted claims in the comparable week a year ago. The four-week moving average for initial claims in the Dec. 15 week was 343,000, up 4,250 from the previous week. The level of continuing claims increased 12,000 to 2.646 million in the Dec. 8 week. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.0% in the Dec. 8 week, similar to the previous week but above the comparable week a year ago when the rate was 1.9%. The unemployment rate among the insured labor force is roughly half 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. — Market News International

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