Initial claims for state unemployment rose 9,000 in the week of March 7 to 654,000 after adjustment, well above even the top of the range of expectations — but without seasonal adjustment, claims stayed “flat,” the Labor Department reported yesterday.

A Market News International survey had expected the initial claims level to be up just 1,000 to 640,000 — revised to 645,000 — with forecasts ranging from 630,000 to 650,000.

A Labor analyst said the March 7 week report was “straightforward” with no state figures estimated and no special factors.

The four-week moving average for initial claims in the March 7 week rose 6,750 to 650,000, the highest since late 1982.

Seasonal adjustment factors had expected a 6,445, or 1.0%, decrease and the not-seasonally adjusted total instead went up just 0.4%, or 2,500. As a result, the Labor analyst said that without seasonal adjustment claims “are staying flat.”

In the Feb. 28 week, continuing claims climbed further above the five million mark to 5.317 million, setting another record.

— Market News International

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