The level of weekly initial jobless claims rose slightly this week by 5,000 to 417,000.  The change pushed the 4-week average up by almost the same amount to 407,500, thanks also to an upward revision of last week’s report:

In the week ending August 20, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 417,000, an increase of 5,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 412,000. The 4-week moving average was 407,500, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 403,500.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.9 percent for the week ending August 13, a 0.1 percentage point decrease from the prior week’s revised rate of 3.0 percent.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending August 13 was 3,641,000, a decrease of 80,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,721,250. The 4-week moving average was 3,701,000, a decrease of 19,500 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,720,750.

Again, this could be just statistical noise, although the upward pressure seems to be moving the range back to the 420K level seen throughout most of the second quarter of the year.  We are moving in the wrong direction again the past few weeks, but not by large swings.  Nevertheless, we know that Reuters never expects bad news, even when it’s merely incremental, so this report was …

New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, lifted by striking Verizon Communications workers, a government report showed on Thursday.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 417,000, the Labor Department said, but still nowhere near levels that would signal a recession.

Striking Verizon workers filed 8,500 claims for jobless benefits last week, after submitting 12,500 applications the previous week, which covered the period for the August nonfarm payrolls survey.

That suggests that the strike would have a negative affect on the payrolls count, which will be reported on Sept. 2. The strike against Verizon has ended.

Well, if Reuters knew about the strike, then why is an increase in the claims filed “more than expected”?

We are making progress in one area of unemployment-data coverage.  Reuters unexpectedly didn’t include any reference at all to its 400K myth this week after I challenged them to back up their claim with actual data.  We’ll see if that’s a trend or merely an anomaly in the series.