Initial claims for unemployment benefits had dropped the previous two weeks; still remain below 350,000 benchmark
First-time claims for unemployment benefits increased last week by 18,000 from the previous week to 354,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week moving average, a less volatile number that flattens out week-to-week fluctuations in the data, was 348,250, an increase of 2,500 from the previous week. Initial jobless claims, an indicator of job layoffs, had dropped for two consecutive weeks. Despite the increase, jobless claims remained below the 350,000 benchmark that analysts consider to be a sign of steady job gains. The advance number of Americans filing for continuing unemployment claims during the week ending June 8 was 2,951,000, a decrease of 40,000 from the prior week. The four-week moving average was 2,978,750, an increase of 7,000 from the preceding week. States reported 1,683,962 persons claiming emergency unemployment compensation in the week ending June 1, a decrease of 19,496 from the prior week. There were 2,533,716 claimants in the comparable week in 2012. The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending June 1 was 4,533,560, an increase of 18,115 from the previous week. There were 5,818,334 claimants in all programs in the comparable week in 2012. The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending June 8 were in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, Georgia, and Ohio, while the largest decreases were in California, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Montana. According to the Associated Press, experts indicate that it is unlikely that hiring will increase this month. The Fed expects the unemployment rate to fall to between 6.5 and 6.8 percent by the end of 2014.