Jobless Claims at 6-Month Low

January 17, 2002 ( - An early sign that the economy may be struggling its way out of its recession, the number of initial unemployment claims fell to a six-month low in the week ending January 12, according to data released by the Department of Labor.

The number of the newly unemployed, as measured by first time unemployment benefit claims fell by 14,000 to 384,000 from 398,000 the previous week, the DoL figures show.

Yet the labor market still remains weak, the four-week moving average, viewed as a better measure of joblessness because it irons out week-to-week fluctuations, remained almost level, dipping only 250, to reach 411,000.

In the week ending January 5, the latest week for which data is available, the states with the largest decreases in initial claims were:

  • Wisconsin, where there were fewer layoffs in the construction, service and manufacturing industries
  • Missouri, where layoffs in the automobile and transportation equipment sector moderated, and
  • Kentucky, which saw the pace of layoffs slow in the electrical equipment and non-electrical machinery industries