June 30, 2005

Jobless claims unexpectedly fall

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans seekinginitial jobless compensation unexpectedly fell 6,000 last weekto 310,000, its lowest level in more than two months, thegovernment said on Thursday.

First-time claims for state unemployment insurance, anearly reading on the resilience of the job market, fell for thesecond straight week, slipping to 310,000 in the week endedJune 25 from a revised 316,000 in the previous week, the LaborDepartment said.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no specialfactors behind the decrease.

The drop in the weekly data defied Wall Street expectationsfor a rise to 325,000 from the original reading of 314,000 inthe week ended June 18.

The fall pushed the number of new claims to their lowestsince 299,000 in the week ended April 16 and well below the347,000 reported for the same period a year ago.

The closely watched four-week moving average, regarded byeconomists as a truer reflection of the labor market than themore volatile weekly figure, also fell for the secondconsecutive week, dropping to 323,500 from 333,750 in theprevious week.

The number of people who remained on the benefit rollsafter drawing an initial week of aid, rose 4,000 to 2.6 millionin the week ended June 18, the latest week for which data areavailable