Jobless Claims Head South in a Big Way

April 29, 2004 ( - The number of jobless workers queuing up for first-time benefits was a good bit shorter last week, the government announced.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) said unemployment claims for the week ending April 24 plummeted by 18,000 to 338,000. It was the steepest weekly decline since a 28,000 drop in the February 14 week.

The four-week moving claims average, which irons out weekly fluctuations, was 1,250 lower to 346,500. The number of jobless workers forced to cling to the unemployment rolls because of difficulty finding work, rose slightly to 3.01 million in the week ended April 17.

Wall Street analysts had forecast claims to decline to 345,000 from a revised 356,000 the previous week.