Initial, Continued Jobless Claims Tumble – But 4-Week Avg Up

December 6, 2001( - In the latest positive sign that the US may be climbing out of its recession, the number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits for the first time decreased by 18,000, to reach 475,000, in the week ending December 1.

In addition, the number of those remaining on the rolls of the unemployed fell by 349,000 the largest one-week drop in 18 years, according to data released by the Department of Labor. The number now stands at 3.64 million, 1.3 million higher than the number a year ago, when the jobless rate was as low as 3.9%.

Nevertheless, the labor market still remains weak – the closely watched four week moving average, which smoothes out weekly volatility increased slightly to 460,750 from the previous week’s 455,000

The data release comes ahead of the much-anticipated November unemployment rate, to be released tomorrow. October’s report saw unemployment jump by 0.5% to reach 5.4%.