Job Market Slumbers On; Unemployment Claims Skyrocket

April 17, 2003 ( - The already bleak US job picture took another turn for the worse last week as first time jobless claims skyrocketed by 30,000 from a revised 412,000.

The US Department of Labor (DoL) said the increase for the week ending April 12 to 442,000 was the ninth straight week the unemployment report stubbornly clung to a mark above the key 400,000 level. Economists view that benchmark as a sign of a slumbering job-creation machine.

Much of the latest increase came from auto industry layoffs, according to a DoL official quoted by Reuters.

The April 12 jobless claims hike came in well above economists’ prediction of 411,000 in Reuters’ regular poll.

Adding to the mounting evidence of an eroded labor market, the four-week moving average — considered a more reliable measure because it irons out weekly fluctuations — moved up to its highest level in nearly a year.   The average was 424,750, an increase of 3,500 from the previous week’s revised 421,250.

The DoL’s April 5 jobless report reflected a 38,000 decline (See   Jobless Claims Drop; Above 400,000 for Eight Weeks ).