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--Initial Claims Four-Week Average Down 5,500 To 215,000 
By Harrison Clarke and Shikha Dave
     WASHINGTON (MNI) - Initial claims U.S. state unemployment benefits 
fell by 13,000 to 199,000 in the January 19 week, well below 
expectations for a 210,000 level, data released by the Labor Department 
Thursday showed. 
     The level of claims was revised down to 212,000 in the January 12 
week from the previously reported 213,000 level. Inital claims for 
federal employees filing in federal programs rose by 14,965 to 25,419 in 
the January 12 week, compared to 1,658 in the comparable week last year. 
This number is likely to rise in the coming weeks as more furloughed 
workers file due to the continued partial government shutdown. 
--CLAIMS TRENDING DOWNWARD
     A better measure for the underlying trend of the data is the 
four-week moving average for initial claims. The average fell by 5,500 
to 215,000 in the January 19 week. 
     If the number of headline claims does not change next week and 
there are no revisions to data from the past four weeks, the four-week 
average would fall by 8,500 as the 233,000 level in the December 29 week 
rolls out of the calculation. 
     Seasonal adjustment factors had expected a decrease of 17.1%, or 
58,793 in unadjusted claims. However, claims actually posted a decrease 
of 22.2%, or 76,558 to 267,921. The current week's level was above the 
260,070 level in the comparable week a year ago. 
--CONTINUING CLAIMS FALL
     The level of continuing claims fell by 24,000 to 1.713 million in 
the January 12 week. Before seasonal adjustment, continuing claims fell 
by 83,188 to 2.090 million, below the 2.288 million level seen in the 
comparable week last year. 
     The four-week average for continuing claims, which tends to be a  
more reliable measure as continuing claims consistently fluctuate 
week-to-week, rose by 1,250 to 1.730 million. 
     The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was unchanged at 
1.2% in the January 12 week, down from 1.4% in the same week a year 
earlier, reinforcing that the level of insured unemployment is extremely 
low. 
     The unemployment rate among the insured labor force is well below 
that reported monthly by the Labor Department because claims are 
approved for the most part only for job losers, not the job leavers and 
labor force reentrants included in the monthly report. 
     ** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 ** 
[TOPICS: MAUDS$,M$U$$$,MAUDR$]

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