Thursday, September 4, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of newly-laid off workers seeking unemployment benefits jumped unexpectedly last week, the government said Thursday, reversing three weeks of declines.
The Labor Department reported that new applications for unemployment insurance rose to a seasonally adjusted 444,000, up 15,000 from the previous week. Economists had expected claims to drop to 420,000.
The increase indicates that the slowing economy is taking its toll on the job market. Many economists consider claims above 400,000 to be a sign of a weak economy. Initial claims stood at 320,000 in the same week last year.
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The four-week moving average fell slightly to 438,000, down 3,250 from the previous week.
The number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits also rose slightly to 3.44 million for the week ending Aug. 23, up 6,000 from the previous week. That number doesn’t include people who have exhausted their regular benefits and have requested extended assistance under an emergency program.
While Thursday’s figure is below the six-year high of 457,000 reached in late July, economists attributed some of that increase to an outreach program by the Labor Department to notify individuals about the availability of extended benefits. Congress approved the extra benefits in June.
This article was posted: Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 9:21 am