First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits showed a modest decrease in the week ended June 16th, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday, although claims still came in higher than economists had expected.
The Labor Department of estimated that new unemployment claims came in at a seasonally adjusted level of 387,000 for the week, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level of 389,000.
Economists had been expecting jobless claims to dip to 383,000 from the 386,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Peter Boockvar, managing director at Miller Tabak, said, "Bottom line, Initial Claims are now 380k+ for a 4th straight week, pointing to a slowdown in the labor market, where the pace of firing's are ticking up again."
The four-week moving average of new unemployment claims, a figure that reduces some of the week-to-week fluctuations in the data, ticked up by 3,500 to 386,250 from the previous week's revised average of 382,750.
New unemployment claims have remained below the 400,000 level that most economists believe is crucial to lead to a drop in the unemployment rate since late October 2011.
However, this week's figures put the four-week moving average of new unemployment claims at its highest level since the week ending December 3, 2011.
Labor Department officials said that seasonal factors had predicted a 3.9 percent decline in new claims for unemployment insurance for the week.
The data reported from the states, however, showed a slightly larger, 4.5 percent decline, resulting in the drop in the seasonally adjusted claims levels.
The number of people on the unemployment insurance rolls, a figure known as continuing claims, came in at a seasonally adjusted level of 3.299 million in the week ended June 9th, unchanged from the previous week's revised level.
While most economists had predicted that the continuing claims level would hold level, their predictions did not factor in a revision of the previous week's data, which was initially reported at 3.278 million.
The four-week moving average of continuing unemployment claims increased to 3,293,750, up 5,250 from the previous week's revised average of 3,288,500.
by RTT Staff Writer
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