Jobless Aid Requests Dip by 3,000

April 1, 2004 ( -The number of Americans filing initial claims for jobless aid dipped a bit last week, according to a government report.

The US Department of Labor (DoL) said first-time unemployment insurance slid 3,000 to 342,000 in the week ending March 27 from a revised 345,000 the week before (See    Jobless Claims Tick Up ). Meanwhile, the four-week moving average of new claims, closely watched because it irons out short-term volatility, held steady last week at the more than three-year low of 340,250 reached a week earlier.

DoL also reported that the number of people forced to cling to unemploymnt rolls because of difficulty in finding work, rose 32,000 to 3.06 million in the week ending March 20.

Wall Street e conomists had been calling for claims to rise 1,000 from the 339,000 initially reported for the March 20 week.

With the long-term status of domestic job market still in doubt, economists will closely examine a report on March employment scheduled to be released Friday. The median forecast of analysts polled ahead of that report is for a payroll gain of 103,000 jobs, which would be the strongest advance in three years – although still short of the pace needed to keep up with growth in the labor force.