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For the week ending June 15, the Department of Labor reported Thursday, seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment compensation rose to 354,000. That was an increase of 18,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 336,000, originally reported as 334,000. For the comparable week of 2012, initial claims were 386,000.
The less volatile four-week running average rose 2,500 to 348,250 from the previous week's revised average of 345,750.
During the past few decades, the lowest extended period of claims occurred during the last couple of years of President Bill Clinton's term of office when they averaged about 280,000 a week.
For all programs—state and federal emergency unemployment compensation established in the early months of the recession—the total number of people making continuing claims for the week ending June 1 was 4,533,560. That was an increase of 18,115 from the previous week. For the comparable week of 2012, there were 5,818,334 people claiming compensation. As pointed out previously, the year-to-year drop is a product of people finding jobs or of exhausting their benefits.
Americans receiving compensation under the federal program have seen at least a 10 percent cut in their government checks in the past couple of months because of budget sequester. Some states have also cut the maximum amount of each check as well as how many weeks a person can collect compensation from 26 weeks to 20 or fewer.