Jobless Claims Spike Higher, But?

August 1, 2002 ( - The latest jobless benefits report is something of a good news - bad news proposition.

According to the Department of Labor (DoL), while first-time claims unexpectedly spiked up 20,000 to 387,000 for the week ending July 27, the weekly total still snuck in below the all-important 400,000 level – widely considered a recession indicator

Jobless figures have stayed below 400,000 for most of the last nine weeks.

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The extent of the increase surprised Wall Street economists responding to a Reuters poll who had expected claims to rise to just  373,000 from the original measure of 362,000 for the July 20 week.

The four-week moving average – also a closely watched indicator because it smoothes out short-term fluctuations — rose to 386,000 in the week ended July 27, up from 385,750 the previous week. It was well below the 397,000 reported for the same period a year ago when the country was in the midst of the 2001 recession.