Jobless Claims Fall

March 18, 2004 ( - The number of jobless workers requesting first-time unemployment benefits saw a significant dip last week.

For the week ending March 13 there were 336,000 first-time benefits requests from the revised 342,00 the week before.   With the latest drop in jobless claims, the weekly reading is now the lowest total since 316,000 January 13, 2001, one week before President Bush took office, according to data released by the US Department of Labor (DoL).

The drop also pushed theclosely watched four-week moving average of claims lower, down 2,000 to 344,050.   This is the lowest reading of the average that irons out short-term volatility since 336,500 in the week ended January 27, 2001.

Bucking the downward trend was the number of people who continue to collect jobless benefits.   That number jumped by 47,000 to 3.1 million in the week ended March 6.

Economists participating in Reuters’ weekly survey had forecast claims to rise to 345,000 in the latest reading, up from the 341,000 unrevised jobless claims figure from the previous week (See  Jobless Aid Requests Trend Down ).   Backing up this prediction was the 40 economists surveyed by Bloomberg who also had the number of initial jobless claims for the week pegged at 345,000.