Initial Job Claims Slip, But Stop Short of Key Mark

June 21, 2001 ( - The number of people claiming unemployment insurance benefits for the first time dropped a bit more than expected last week, but stayed above a key mark.

The figure fell to 400,000 in the week ended June 16 from the previous week’s revised total of 434,000, according to the Department of Labor

The more-closely watched four-week moving average, viewed as a better indicator of economic performance, fell to 422,500, a decrease of 2,750 from the previous week?s revised average of 425,000.

First-time applications have hovered around the 400,000 benchmark, which is viewed as a sign of a softening labor market, for five weeks in a row. That’s the longest such string since late 1992.

Texas reported the largest fall in initial claims, with 2,317 claims fewer than the previous week as restructuring slowed in the rubber and plastics industries, transportation equipment, electrical machinery and equipment, and the trade and services industries.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending June 9, the last date for which data is available, were in North Carolina, which experienced lay offs in the textile, apparel and trade industries and in California where cut backs occurred in the construction, trade and electronics industries and in agriculture.