Jobless Claims Down Again

October 16, 2003 ( - The number of Americans filing for initial unemployment benefits fell for the second straight week in a hopeful sign for job seekers.

The US Department of Labor (DoL) said that jobless claims for the week ending October 11 fell 4,000 to 384,000 from a revised 399,000 the previous week – the second consecutive time that claims came in below the important 400,000 benchmark (See  Jobless Queue Shortest Since February ). Economists say claims above 400,000 suggest a deteriorating job market.

The drop also brought a decline in the closely watched four-week moving average, which irons out short-term volatility. The DoL said the average fell 4,250 to 390,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 395,000.

While the report suggested layoffs might be slowing, it also showed unemployed workers are still having a tough time finding new jobs. For the week ended October 4, the number of Americans claiming benefits after filing an initial claim climbed 58,000 to 3.67 million.

Analysts participating in Reuters’ weekly survey had predicted 388,000 claims for the October 11 week.