Initial Jobless Claims Jump 5.4%

Initial jobless claims jumped 5.4% to 354,000 for the week ending June 15, according to a Labor Department report released today.

After dropping a revised 2.9% the previous week and 3.1% the week before, this newest report exceeded analysts' consensus estimate by 14,000 claims and puts unemployment back on the rise.

Source: Author, data from Labor Department.

From a more long-term perspective, a 0.7% uptick in the four-week moving average to 348,250 initial claims provided analysts and investors with some continued optimism. Both the latest week's claims and the four-week average fall significantly below 400,000, a cutoff point that economists consider a sign of an improving labor market.

On a state-by-state basis, only California recorded a decrease of more than 1,000 initial claims for the week ending June 8 (most recent available data). Its 1,200 decrease was due primarily to fewer layoffs in the service and retail trade industries.

For the same period, 16 states registered increases of more than 1,000 initial claims. Pennsylvania led the pack at 5,210, citing transportation and health care layoffs as its major movers. Illinois also laid claim to transportation layoffs as a partial reason for its 3,360-initial-claim increase. Texas, at just over 3,000 additional claims, did not provide a comment.

This latest report comes just one day after the Federal Reserve released new unemployment estimates, predicting a drop to 7.2%-7.3% from its current 7.6% rate by the end of 2013.

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