DoL: Midwest Tornadoes Storm Through Job Market

May 22, 2003 ( - A series of tornadoes that slammed into the Midwest last week helped drive up first-time unemployment benefits claims, according to a government report.

The US Department of Labor (DoL) said the initial jobless filings for the week ending May 17 were up 7,000 to 428,000 from the prior week’s revised 421,000. The four-week moving average – considered a more reliable barometer because it irons out short-term volatility – was 433,000, a decrease of 7,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 440,750.

Economists in Reuters’ regular survey were way under the claims totals with their prediction of 415,000.

DoL analysts said the tornadoes that hit Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas damaged auto plans and other businesses and caused the weather-related employment losses.

The DoL report before the wave of bad weather found the number of unemployed Americans having to stay on the jobless rolls shooting up to the highest level in 18 months (See Long-term Jobless Benefit Recipients Total Highest Since 2001 ).


Economists consider claims totals above the 400,000 mark a sign of a still-anemic job market.