–Labor Analyst: Some Technical Calendar Issues May Spark Decline

By Denny Gulino and Ian McKendry

WASHINGTON (MNI) – Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment
benefits fell 37,000 to a level of 391,000 after seasonal adjustment in
the Sept. 24 employment survey week, with technical factors
contributing to the unexpected decline, the Labor Department reported

The level of initial claims was the lowest since the April 2 week’s
385,000 and the first below-400,000 number since the Aug. 6 week.

Nevertheless, a Labor Department analyst cited technical
factors as a contributor to what he said should not have been a
surprising decline for a week toward the end of a quarter, with some
hurricane-related paperwork backed up in some state offices. In
addition, the year as a whole has been less synched with seasonal
adjustment factors given it has 53 survey weeks instead of 52 and that
the Easter holiday was offset from its typical pattern.

The prior week was revised upward to 428,000 from the initially
reported 423,000 and had been an expected increase offsetting the week
before’s decline due to that week’s inclusion of a holiday.

Otherwise, the analyst said, there were no unusual factors in the
week for which the seasonals had expected a 0.4% increase of about 1,200
claims and instead got an 8.2% decline of about 29,000.

Economists surveyed by Market News International had expected
initial claims to come in at 420,000.

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average was
417,000 in the September 24 week, down 5,250 from the previous week
and the lowest since the Sept. 3 week.

The state data released for the September 17 week indicated
unadjusted initial claims increased more than 1,000 in nine states.

In the September 17 week, continuing claims fell 20,000 to
3,729,000 after adjustment. Unadjusted continuing claims fell by
118,799 to 3,187,921.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was unchanged at
3.0% in the September 17 week. The current rate is well below the 3.5%
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 rose 39,376 in the
September 10 week, bringing that category to 3,036,635. Extended benefits
claims rose 36,170 to 543,870, not seasonally adjusted in the same

The Labor Department reported that a total of 6,984,897 persons
claimed unemployment benefits in the September 10 week, a gain of
95,242 from the previous week and still well below the 8,930,075 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 Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 **