UPDATE 1-U.S. jobless claims fall 44,000 in latest week

Thu May 12, 2011 8:53am EDT

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WASHINGTON May 12 (Reuters) - U.S. claims for unemployment aid fell sharply last week after a surprisingly big rise the prior week, a government report showed on Thursday.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 44,000 to a seasonally adjusted 434,000 in the week ended May 7, the Labor Department said.

Analysts had expected the claims to drop to 430,000.

Revised data for the week ended April 30 showed a rise of 47,000 in jobless claims to 478,000, fuelled largely by about 25,000 spring break layoffs in New York.

Many states in the Northeast allow for non-teaching staff to file for unemployment benefits when schools close for spring and summer breaks.

To some degree, last week's drop was a reaction to the prior week's surge, which not was anticipated by the factors the department uses to seasonally adjust the claims number, a Labor Department official said. New York's spring break occurred at an unusual time this year.

The four-week moving average of unemployment claims, a better measure of underlying trends, increased 4,500 to 436,750, the highest since November.

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after receiving an initial week of aid increased 5,000 to 3.76 million in the week ended April 30. Economists had expected so-called continuing claims to fall to 3.70 million, from a previously reported 3.73 million.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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