Initial Jobless Claims Surge, But Moving Average Moves Lower

January 3, 2002 ( The ranks of the unemployed swelled for the second consecutive week, as measured by the number of first time unemployment benefits claims, which rose by 36,000.

According to the Department of Labor, in the week ending December 29, the number increased by 8.7% to reach 447,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 411,000.  That week claims rose by 26,000, according to revised figures. That was a much bigger increase than the 7,000 increase previously reported.

The largest increases in initial claims, for the week ending December 22, the latest week for which data are available, were in:

  • Virginia, where claims were up by 9,576
  • Michigan, up 7,925 due to layoffs in the automobile industry, and
  • Kentucky, increasing by 6,198 following increased layoffs in the apparel, non-electrical machinery, electrical equipment and transportation equipment industries

The number of those lining up for an additional week of unemployment benefits also spiked, increasing by 42,000 to 3,715,000 in the week ending December 22.

The four-week moving average, considered a more reliable indicator of joblessness, since it smoothes out weekly fluctuations, dipped slightly by 8,250 to reach 409,750.