Jobless Claims Decline Short of Expectations

April 22, 2004 ( - Initial requests for jobless benefits last week fell 9,000, the government said - way short of the expected dropoff.

According to U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) data, the unemployment benefit totals for the week ending April 17 were 353,000 – significantly shy of the decline to 340,000 that economists participating in Reuters weekly survey had called for.

While initial claims slipped last week, a four-week moving average of filings, which irons out short-term fluctuations, rose by 2,250 to 347,000.   It was the second straight hike in the average and brought the reading to its highest level since late February.

The number of unemployed workers on the benefit rolls after claiming an initial week of aid rose by 52,000 to 3.02 million in the week ended April 10, the DoL said.