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First Cut: Initial jobless claims up in February 22 week, but underlying trend suggests no real change of momentum

Initial jobless claims rose 8,000 in the week ended February 22 to 219,000 after a small upward revision to 211,000 in the prior week (previously 210,000). The four-week moving average was up only 500 to 209,750 and suggested that the underlying pace of claims was steady and continued consistent with a tight labor market. Unadjusted claims fell 10,245 to 199,032, less than anticipated by seasonal adjustment factors.

The Labor Department reported no special factors and only Alabama had its claims estimated for the week.

The level of continuing claims declined 9,000 to 1.724 million in the week ended February 15. This was a normal week-to-week change and leaves continuing claims about on trend. The four-week moving average was at 1.729 million in the week and a signal that few workers need benefits while the labor market is tight. The insured rate of unemployment was yet another 1.2% bringing the period to nearly 22 months with only the briefest of exceptions.

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