New claims for U.S. unemployment benefits saw a modest decrease in the week ended June 23rd but still came in slightly higher than predicted, according to a report released Thursday by the Labor Department.
The report showed initial jobless claims at a seasonally adjusted level of 386,000 for the week, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week's revised level of 392,000.
However, the decrease comes after the previous week's level of new claims was upwardly revised from the 387,000 initially reported.
Most economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 385,000.
The four-week moving average of new unemployment claims, a figure that reduces some of the week-to-week fluctuations in the data, decreased slightly, falling by 750 to 386,750 from the previous week's revised average of 387,500.
Jobless claims have remained below the 400,000 level that most economists believe is crucial to a drop in the unemployment rate since late October of 2011.
However, Peter Boockvar, managing director at Miller Tabak, noted that jobless claims remained above 380,000 for the fifth straight week.
"Bottom line, the jobs picture is still lackluster and certainly getting no help from the slowing global economy," Boockvar said.
Labor Department officials said that seasonal factors had predicted a 2.6 percent increase in raw levels of new unemployment claims. However, because the actual increase came in at a lower, 1.1 percent level, the seasonally adjusted figures showed a decline.
The officials added that natural disasters such as the wildfires in Colorado and the flooding in Florida from Tropical Storm Debby did not appear to play a role in this week's unemployment figures.
As a general rule, the officials said, workers displaced by natural disasters are compensated through different unemployment insurance programs and as such do not normally play a large role in the weekly claims numbers.
The number of people on the unemployment insurance rolls, a figure known as continuing claims, came in at a seasonally adjusted level of 3.296 million for the week ended June 16th, a decrease of 15,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 3.311 million.
The drop comes from revised figures that put the previous week's level of continuing claims higher than the 3.299 million initially reported.
The continuing claims level also came in higher than the 3.283 million predicted by most economists.
The four-week moving average of continuing unemployment claims increased by 9,250 to 3.306 million from the previous week's revised average of 3,296,750.
by RTT Staff Writer
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