New claims for unemployment insurance in the U.S. unexpectedly saw a modest increase in the week ended June 9th, according to figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.
The Labor Department estimated initial jobless claims at a seasonally adjusted level of 386,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's revised level of 380,000.
The increase surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to edge down to 375,000 from the 377,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Lindsey Piegza, an economist at FTN Financial, said, "While noticeably down from this time last year, claims remain elevated after the downward trend arrested back in February."
"The recent and growing weakness in the labor force continues to undermine confidence in the sustainability of the U.S. recovery," she added. "The downward trend in claims has yet to be reinstated suggesting further weakness in payrolls is likely."
The four-week moving average of new unemployment claims, a figure that reduces some of the week-to-week volatility in the reports, was also up slightly, rising by 3,500 to 382,000 from the previous week's revised average of 378,500.
Labor Department officials said that seasonal factors had predicted a fairly large 13.5 percent increase in new claims, due in large part to the fact that the previous week contained a federal holiday - narrowing the window for people to file new unemployment claims.
However, the 15.2 percent increase in new claims recorded for the week ended June 9th came in even higher than the seasonal adjustments had predicted, resulting in the increase in the seasonally adjusted numbers.
The total number of people claiming unemployment insurance, a figure known as continuing claims, fell to a seasonally adjusted level of 3.278 million for the week ended June 2nd, a drop of 33,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3.311 million.
However, most economists had expected continuing claims to show an even steeper drop to 3.275 million.
The four-week average of continuing unemployment claims came in at 3,281,500, a slight 2,500 drop from the previous week's revised average of 3.284 million.
"What does this mean for June payrolls?" Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets asked. "Wait until next week to make a more definite call given that the next release will cover the payroll survey period."
She added, "But so far, it appears that the trend of slowing job growth (which began in Feb, then March, then April, then May) is stretching into June."
by RTT Staff Writer
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