Jobless Claims Tick Up; Analysts Not Worried

May 20, 2004 ( - Even though the line of unemployed workers filing for first-time benefits was longer than analysts had predicted last week, the job-market watchers still think the domestic economy remains on the upswing.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) reported that initial claims jumped by 12,000 to 345,000 in the week ending May 15 – this, despite a prediction by Wall Street economists that the latest total would actually dip to 326,000 from a revised 333,000 the previous week.

The jobless numbers might not have been as low as expected but economists said the broad outline of an improving labor market was still intact.   “Claims were little higher, but they were not out of line with the recent range. I don’t think it reflects a fundamental change. I think the labor market is still improving,” Wachovia Securities economist Mark Vitner told Reuters.

Meanwhile, the four-week moving average of filings, which irons out weekly fluctuations, fell 2,750 to 333,500. Finally, the number of unemployed on the benefit rolls after claiming an initial week of aid also fell, declining 23,000 to 2.94 million in the week ending May 8.