Jobless Claims Drop; Claims Average Stays Above 400,000

November 7, 2002 ( - The US economy continues to struggle to find its footing as the number of Americans applying for first-time jobless benefits hovers around the key 400,000 mark. Last week, the jobless figure dipped below the 400,000 level, but a claims average stayed above for the tenth week in a row, the government reported.

According to the latest data from the US Department of Labor (DoL), the number of Americans applying for jobless benefits fell by 20,000 to 390,000 from the previous week’s 410,000 for the week ending November 2.

Last week’s claims drop was bigger than expected. Economists in a Reuters poll forecast that initial claims would edge down to 401,000.

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The four-week moving average – a closely watched employment indicator because it smoothes out short-term volatility – ticked up to 402,000, an increase of 250 from the previous week’s average of 401,750.

Economists consider a claims figure above 400,000 to be a sign of a weak labor market.

Also last week, out-of-work Americans continued having a tough time finding a new job. The number of people continuing to file for claims r ose to a seasonally adjusted 3.58 million for the week ended October 26, the most recent week these data were available, from 3.57 million, the government data showed.

Thursday’s latest data follows the jobless report for the week ending October 26 in which the claims figure jumped from 394,000 to 410,000. (See  Jobless Claims Ping-Pongs Back Above 400,000 ).

Also, the DoL reported last week that the  nation’s unemployment rate  edged up from 5.6% in September to 5.7% in October.