In a surprise to many economic-indicator watchers, the number of new people applying for jobless benefits fell -- an event that may point to slowing layoffs.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, weekly initial claims fell to 623,000 for the week ending May 23, which is down 13,000 from the revised figure from the week before. Because week-to-week comparisons can be volatile, the report also offered a four-week average. That number fell to 626,750 from 629,750. All of these numbers were adjusted for varying seasonal fluctuations.
But the news wasn't all good. The number of people receiving unemployment benefits still rose 110,000 to 6.78 million for the week ending May 16. That's another record total for the metric, making it 17 straight weeks with a record. The numbers for continuing claims tend to trail initial claims by one week. The four-week average also rose to 6,608,250, which represents a 123,750 jump.
When looking state-by-state, the largest jump in initial claims came from California, which reported an increase of 5,447 claims. According to the report, that state said the increase came from layoffs in construction, trade and service industries. Next in line was North Carolina at 2,693, saying the jump came from a wide cross-section of layoffs in industries like transportation, petroleum, construction, service and electrical equipment.
The largest decreases in initial claims reported came from Michigan and Kentucky, which said that fewer layoffs in the automobile industry and manufacturing likely contributed to the drop.
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