Initial jobless claims fell 2.5% to 346,000 for the week ending June 22, according to a Labor Department report (link opens as PDF) released today.

After jumping up a revised 5.7% the previous week, this newest report eased immediate worries. Analysts' estimates proved slightly overoptimistic at 345,000 initial claims.

Source: Author, data from Labor Department. 

From a more long-term perspective, a 0.8% decrease in the four-week moving average to 345,750 initial claims pushed trends lower once again. 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, six states recorded a decrease of more than 1,000 initial claims for the week ending June 15 (most recent available data). Illinois made the largest improvements (-3,400), fueled by fewer layoffs in construction and manufacturing. New York numbers eased down 2,090, while Georgia knocked 1,890 off its initial claims. 

For the same period, five states registered increases of more than 1,000 initial claims. California recorded a whopping 15,340-initial-claim increase, primarily due to services sector layoffs. Pennsylvania added 4,880 more claims, while Florida upped its initial claims by 4,850. The states cited transportation and agriculture sectors, respectively, as their largest layoff sources.

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