Initial Claims Still Top 400,000

May 16, 2002 ( - Initial claims for state unemployment benefits remain stubbornly above the key 400,000 level, which economists view as symptom of a recession.

Initial claims ticked up by 2,000 in the week ending May 11, surprising analysts polled by Reuters, who expected a drop in the number. The figure now stands at 418,000, according to data from the Department of Labor (DoL).

The four-week moving average for initial jobless claims, considered a better measure of the unemployment situation since it smoothes out weekly fluctuations, fell 8,500 to 420,750, according to DoL figures.

This is the lowest level since the week ending March 23, but significantly higher than the 331,765 claims recorded in the comparable week of 2001.