Jobless Claims Head South Again

November 20, 2003 ( - A week after the number of Americans filing for first-time jobless claims increased, the closely watched economic indicator resumed its downward path with a 15,000 claims decline.

According to the US Department of Labor, data for the week ending November 15 showed the jobless claims total at 355,000 from an upwardly revised 370,000 over the week before.

There was also good news from four-week moving average, which economists consider a particularly good economic barometer because it irons out short-term volatility. For the November 15 week, the average fell to its lowest level in nearly three years to 367,250, down from 376,250 in the previous week.

The only downside to Thursday’s DoL report was that the number of people already on state jobless benefit rolls rose by 21,000 to 3.49 million in the November 8 week, the latest period for which that data is available.

Wall Street economists participating in Reuters’ regular poll had been calling for a claims total of 365,000 for the November 15 week.

Claims for the November 8 week ticked up, according to the government (See  Jobless Claims Up 13,000 ).