The less volatile four-week running average rose to 351,750, up 6,000 from the previous week's revised average of 345,750.
For the first 27 weeks of 2012, the average of weekly initial claims was 375,000. For the first 27 weeks of 2013 (including for the most recent week), the average was 351,000.
Every week claims rise, some analysts wonder if perhaps the federal budget sequester is to blame. So far, evidence for that is scant. The Labor Department noted when it released Thursday's figures that seasonal adjustments are difficult in July in part because of the Independence Day holiday and because this is the month that automakers traditionally shut down for several weeks to retool. However, that shutdown didn't happen this year.
For the states' jobless compensation programs and the federal emergency program, the total number of people claiming benefits for the week ending June 22 was 4,505,508, down 52,257 from the previous week. For the comparable week of 2013, 5,874,101 persons claimed benefits in all programs. As I've noted previously, the year-over-year drop is partly a consequence of some people finding jobs and partly a result of others exhausting their benefits.
Jobless Americans who depend on the federal emergency compensation program implemented because of the Great Recession and renewed several times over the past few years have seen their weekly checks fall by at least 10 percent in the past few months because of the sequester. Some states, like North Carolina, have also cut the maximum amount an eligible unemployed worker can receive each week and how many weeks they are allowed to collect unemployment compensation.