Jobless Claims Dip

April 25, 2002 ( - The lines of workers filing for first time unemployment benefits got a little shorter this week, yet the numbers still remain high, new data from the Department of Labor (DoL) show.

Initial jobless claims fell by 31,000 to a seasonally adjusted 421,000 for the week ending April 20, according to the DoL.

The four-week moving average, considered a more reliable measure of the employment situation because it irons out weekly volatility, rose for the eighth consecutive week.

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The figure reached 452,500, the highest level since November of last year.

Overall, the number of people claiming benefits in the past few weeks has remained well above the key 400,000 level economists consider indicative of a recession.

However, the DoL attributes the high level to the increase in extended benefit filings from the unemployed who have exhausted their unemployment benefits.

President Bush recently signed legislation that provided a 13-week extension of jobless benefits. Because the unemployed are required to refile for these benefits, the weekly claims figures have been volatile for the last few weeks.