Jobless Claims Dip; Still Above 400,000

September 26, 2002 ( - New claims for US jobless benefits fell for the second straight week, but still stubbornly remained above the much-watched 400,000 mark, the US Department of Labor (DoL) announced.

According to DoL data, first-time benefit claims dipped 24,000 for the week ending September 21 to 406,000. That was down from a revised 430,000 the week before the DoL said.

The number of new applications fell more steeply than economists’ forecasts for a drop to 421,000 from the original measure of 424,000 for the September 14 week.

The latest report represents the fifth consecutive week that new claims stayed above the 400,000 watermark. Economists believe a claims figure above the watermark means the country is in a recession.

The four-week moving average, a closely followed figure because it tends to smooth out short-term fluctuations, dropped by 1,000 to 419,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 420,000

In a sign the pace of hiring remains poor, the number of people who continue to draw jobless benefits rose for the third straight week to 3.68 million in the September 14 week, the latest week for which figures are available.

In last week’s jobless report, DoL said claims dropped by 9,000.