WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment increased 23,000 to 352,000 in the Nov. 24 week, the highest level since Feb. 20, when it was 356,000, and following a downward revision to the previous week’s level, the Labor Department reported yesterday. The previous week’s initial claims level was revised to 329,000 from the originally reported 330,000 level.Seasonals had expected initial unadjusted claims to fall by about 21,000, but they actually decreased by only 174 in the Nov. 24 week to a level of 323,171. There were 323,509 unadjusted claims in the comparable week a year ago. The four-week moving average for initial claims in the Nov. 24 week was 335,250, up 5,750 from the previous week — the highest level since March 3, when it was 338,250. The level of continuing claims rose 112,000 to 2.665 million in the Nov. 17 week. A comparison of employment survey weeks shows continuing claims rose 142,000 in the Nov. 24 week versus the 2.523 million level reported in the Oct. 13 week. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.0% in the Nov. 17 week, above both the previous week and 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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