Jobless Claims Still Dropping For Third Week

December 5, 2002 ( - Government figures for first-time unemployment benefits claims continued heading south for the week ending November 30 - the third straight weekly report showing a claims decrease.

According to the US Department of Labor (DoL), initial jobless claims fell by 13,000 to 355,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 368,000. The 355,000 mark is the lowest since the February 17, 2001 week.

The four-week moving average, closely watched because it irons out weekly fluctuations, also fell in the latest week. The number dropped 10,500 to 376,500 from the previous week’s revised total of 387,000.

Thursday’s report was also the third in a row with total claims figures below the key 400,000 mark that analysts view as a sign of a troubled labor market.

In a significant positive sign, the number of workers remaining on state unemployment aid fell sharply. Continuing claims dropped 123,000 to 3.5 million in the week ending November 23.

The claims drop in the November 30 report also surprised economists in Reuters’ regular poll. The economists had predicted a drop to 378,000.

Analysts are eagerly awaiting the government latest unemployment rate report, which is scheduled for release Friday.

Last week, the DoL reported that claims for the week ending November 23 fell 17,000 (See

Jobless Claims Fall to Lowest Since Feb. 2001 ).