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New jobless claims total 388,000 in latest week

New jobless claims total 388,000 in latest week (by Jeffry Bartash)

WASHINGTON -- New applications by jobless workers seeking unemployment benefits were little changed last week after taking into account revisions in the how the U.S. government calculates the data. The number of people who filed initial requests for jobless benefits fell by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 388,000 in the week ended March 26, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Yet that decline occurred after claims in the prior week were revised up to 394,000 from an originally reported 382,000. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected claims for last week to end up around 380,000. The average of new claims over the past four weeks, meanwhile, rose by 3,250 to 394,250. The four-week average is considered more accurate a gauge of employment trends because it lessens week-to-week volatility in the data. The Labor Department on Thursday also released its annual revision to seasonal factors that influence the claims report. The new adjustment in seasonal factors, shows that claims were an average of 7,000 higher in each week of 2011. Also in the latest weekly report, the government said the number of workers who continued to receive state compensation decreased by 51,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.71 million in the week of March 19. That's' the lowest level since October 2008. Altogether, 8.77 million people received some kind of state or federal benefit in the week of March 12, up slightly from the prior week.