WASHINGTON (MNI) - Initial jobless claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits rose by 4,000 to 317,000 in the June 7 week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The increase in the June 7 week marked the second straight week that jobless claims rose as the May 31 week was revised up, just slightly to 313,000. Expectations compiled by an MNI survey called for jobless claims to fall to 308,000.

The up tick in claims combined with the very low level of 298,000 seen in the May 10 week pushed the four week moving average up 4,750 to 315,250 after seeing its lowest level since 2007 in the May 31 week.

The Labor Department said seasonal adjustment factors had expected a 16.8% increase in unadjusted claims, or roughly a 44,439 increase, in the June 7 week. Instead, unadjusted claims rose 18.2%, or 47,996, to 312,129. That level is below the 332,964 level reported in the comparable week a year ago.

The level of continuing claims came in at 2.614 million after seasonal adjustment in the May 31 week, an increase of 11,000 from the previous week, however the four week moving average fell to 2.622 million which is the lowest since November 2007.

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The level of unadjusted continuing claims also rose, increasing by 29,114 to 2,423,492 in the May 31 week, below the 2,771,143 level in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment was unchanged at 2.0% in the May 31 week, but below the 2.3% rate in the comparable 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.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 2,447,338 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the May 24 week, a 66,040 decline from the previous week. That level is well below the 4,507,942 persons in the comparable week a year ago. It should be noted that last year's total includes Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits.

These data are not seasonally adjusted, and include regular state claims, federal employee claims, new veterans claims, extended benefits programs, state additional benefits, and STC/Workshare claims.

** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 *