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REPEAT: MNI DATA ANALYSIS: US Jobless Claims Drop 1,000>

Repeats Story Initially Transmitted at 13:30 GMT Feb 1/08:30 EST Feb 1
--Four-Week Moving Average Fell 5,000 to 234,500; Could Fall Next Week
--Fourth Quarter Nonfarm Productivity Surprise -0.1%, Labor Costs +2.0% 
By Kevin Kastner, Sara Haire and Holly Stokes 
     WASHINGTON (MNI) - Initial claims U.S. state unemployment benefits 
fell by 1,000 in the January 27 week to 230,000, when analysts had 
expected claims to actually rise modestly to 238,000, data released by 
the Labor Department Thursday showed. 
     Seasonal adjustment factors had expected an increase of 3.4%, or 
8,792 in unadjusted claims. Unadjusted claims actually rose by 7,604 to 
267,674, but the current week's level was still well below the 280,983 
level a year ago. 
     The four-week moving average for initial claims, a better measure 
of the underlying trend of the data during periods of volatility, fell 
by 5,000 to 234,500 in the January 27 week as the 250,000 level in the 
December 30 week rolled out of the equation. 
     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 will fall by 7,750 as the recent peak 261,000 level in the 
January 6 week rolls out of the calculation. 
     The level of seasonally adjusted continuing claims rose by 13,000 
to 1.953 million in the January 20 week after dipping to 1.940 million in 
the previous week, but the level is still significantly lower than a 
year earlier. 
     The four-week moving average for continuing claims rose by 12,000 
to 1.933 million in the January 20 week, as a 1.905 million level in the 
December 23 week dropped out. 
     It is likely the average will rise further in next week's data, as 
the extremely low 1.873 million level in the December 30 holiday week 
will no longer be in the calculation. 
     Unadjusted continuing claims rose by 85,441 to 2.373 million in the 
week, but remained below the 2.495 million level a year earlier. 
     The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate held steady at 
1.4%, down slightly from 1.5% in the same week a year earlier. 
     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. 
     Nonfarm productivity fell 0.1% in the preliminary estimate for the 
fourth quarter, compared with expectations for a 0.7% gain, a surprise 
decline that boosted unit labor costs. Productivity rose 2.7% in the 
previous quarter. 
     Outlays still rose 3.2% in the fourth quarter after a 4.0% gain in 
the previous quarter, but hours worked surged by 3.3%, the strongest 
gain since the fourth quarter of 2014. This followed a 1.2% rise in the 
third quarter, accounting for the dip in nonfarm productivity. 
     Unit labor costs rose 2.0% in the most recent quarter, twice the 
size of the 1.0% gain expected and following a 0.1% decline in the 
previous quarter. 
     On a year/year basis, nonfarm productivity rose by 1.1% in the 
fourth quarter, down from a 1.4% pace in the previous quarter. Unit 
labor costs were up 1.3% year/year, much stronger than the 0.6%  
year/year declines seen in the previous two quarters. 
     For the full year of 2017, productivity rose 1.2%, a solid 
improvement from the 0.1% decline in 2016. At the same time, unit labor 
costs rose 0.2% in all of 2017, a slowdown from the 1.1% rise in 2016. 
     ** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 ** 

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