Jobless Claims Drop; Above 400,000 for Eight Weeks

April 10, 2003 ( - The US labor market continued its see-saw pattern last week as initial jobless benefits claims dropped by 38,000.

However, the US Department of Labor (DoL) said the 405,000 total for the week ending April 5, down  from the previous week’s revised figure of 443,000, still represented the eighth straight week above the key 400,000-benchmark. That is considered a signal that the economy is still slow to improve.

Still, the claims drop was larger than forecast by economists in Reuters’ regular weekly survey who predicted a decline to 428,000. The four-week moving average, considered a more reliable number because it irons out short-term volatility, declined to 419,500a decrease of 3,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 423,250.

DoL’s initial claims report for the April 5 week follows a spike to 445,000 for the previous week – the highest level in almost a year (See Jobless Claims Spike Higher to 445,000 ). Also last week, the government reported that the March unemployment rate clung to the 5.8% mark, but shed 108,000 nonfarm jobs (See  Unemployment Rate Steady But Payrolls Still Shrinking).