Jobless Claims Fall Ahead of Forecasts

January 9, 2003 ( -The number of Americans seeking initial jobless benefits fell by 19,000 - more than expected - for the week ending January 4, according to the US Department of Labor (DoL).

The DoL report said the first-time claims figure was 389,000, down from a revised 408,000 the previous week. That follows an unexpectedly large 13,000 claims hike for the week ending December 28. (See  Jobless Claims Back Up After Declines ).

According to the DoL, the latest four-week moving average, a more reliable gauge because it smoothes out week-to-week fluctuations, fell by 13,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 419,750.  

The latest claims drop was larger than expected in Reuters’ regular economists’ poll. The economists predicted 397,000 initial claims for the January 4 week.

The report was released the day after President Bush signed a bill restoring extended jobless benefits (See  President Inks Benefits Extension ).

The DoL is also scheduled to release December’s unemployment rate on Friday. November’s rate was 6% – the highest since April. (See  November’s Unemployment Shoots Up ).