Jobless Claims Suffer 2nd Straight Hike

December 11, 2003 ( - The number of jobless workers filing for first-time benefits shot up for the second time in a row last week to its highest level in six weeks, the government reported Thursday.

The US Department of Labor (DoL) reported that initial unemployment claims for the week ending December 6 rose 13,000 to 378,000 from a revised 365,000. That follows last week’s jobless report showing an 11,000-claim hike (See  Jobless Claims Tick Up by 11,000 ).

The silver lining in the December 6 report was the fact that the claims total has been below the 400,000 level that economists see as the divide between improving and deteriorating labor markets for 10 straight weeks – the longest stretch since a run that ended in April 2001.

The four-week moving average of claims, closely watched because it irons out short-term volatility, rose 2,250 to 364,750 from a revised 362,500. The number of unemployed workers forced to cling to the jobless rolls, rose 11,000 to 3.35 million in the week ended November 29, although a four-week measure of that barometer fell to its lowest level since February.

Wall Street economists participating in Reuters’ regular survey had expected claims for the November 29 week to slip slightly to 360,000.