–Initial Claims Well Above 375,000 Expected
–4-week Moving Average Jumps 6,250 To Highest Level Since January

By Kevin Kastner and Ian McKendry

WASHINGTON (MNI) – Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment
benefits fell much less than expected in the April 21, down only 1,000
to 388,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Economists surveyed by MNI had forecast a larger drop in initial
claims for the April 21 week, with the median estimate at 375,000 —
down from the 386,000 level initially reported in last week’s data. The
claims level for the April 14 week was revised up slightly to 389,000.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors in
the data and that all states, including Alaska, reported their own
claims data this week.

The analyst said seasonal factors had expected a decline of about
0.7% or 2,700 in unadjusted initial claims for the April 21 week. The
actual decline in unadjusted claims was close to the expectations,
falling 0.95 or 3,484 to a level of 366,743. Unadjusted claims were at a
level of 387,867 in the comparable week a year ago.

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average was
381,750 in the April 21 week, a rise of 6,250 from the previous week and
the highest level since 381,750 in the January 7 week.

The state data released for the April 14 week indicated unadjusted
initial claims increased in 16 states and declined in 37 states. The
District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands are included in
this data.

Continuing claims rose 3,000 to 3.315 million after seasonal
adjustment in the April 14 employment survey week. Continuing claims
were at a level of 3.354 million in the March 17 employment survey week,
a monthly drop of 39,000 that suggests only modest improvement.

Unadjusted continuing claims fell 36,897 to 3,410,877 in the April
14 week, still well below the 3,783,787 level in the comparable week a
year earlier.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate held steady at
2.6% for the fifth straight week in the April 14 week, but was 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 45,930 in the April 7
week, bringing that category total to 2,729,204. Extended benefits
claims fell by 14,262 to 412,411 not seasonally adjusted in the same

The Labor Department reported that a total of 6,677,959 persons
claimed unemployment benefits in the April 7 week, a drop of 87,160 from
the previous week and well below the 8,177,466 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.

** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 **