Initial claims for U.S. unemployment insurance dipped in the week ended May 19th after revised figures showed a higher number of claims in the previous week.
According to the Labor Department, new unemployment claims came in at a seasonally adjusted level of 370,000, a slight decline from the previous week's revised level of 372,000.
The data for the previous week had initially shown new unemployment claims holding level at 370,000, so the revision reflects a slight increase.
Nevertheless, the number for the latest week still comes in below the expectations of most economists, who had predicted a slight increase in claims to 371,000.
The four-week moving average of new unemployment claims, a figure that eases some of the week-to-week volatility in the reports, also showed a slight decrease, dropping by 5,500 to 370,000 from the previous week's revised average of 375,500.
Labor Department officials said that seasonal factors had predicted a 1.4 percent increase in new claims for unemployment for the week.
What was reported by the states, however, was a 0.8 percent increase in raw claims, a little more than half of the expected increase, resulting in the slightly lower seasonally adjusted figure.
Most economists believe that new unemployment claims must remain below 400,000 per week for the overall unemployment rate to drop. According to Labor Department figures, weekly claims have remained below that level since mid-October of 2011.
A more comprehensive report from the Labor Department on job creation and the overall unemployment rate is due to be released next Friday.
The total number of people claiming unemployment insurance, a figure known as continuing claims, fell by 29,000 to a seasonally adjusted level of 3.26 million in the week ended May 12th.
However, in part because the previous week's revised level of 3.289 million continuing claims was up from the 3.265 million initially reported, continuing claims came in higher than the 3.25 million most economists had predicted.
The four-week average of continuing unemployment claims fell by 17,250 to a seasonally adjusted level of 3,271,500 - remaining at some of the lowest levels since August of 2008.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com