Jobless Claims Totals Below 400,000 For 2nd Week

July 31, 2003 ( - The US jobless picture continued to brighten last week as initial jobless claims dipped to the lowest level since February.

Latest data from the US Department of Labor (DoL) showed that initial claims ticked down by 3,000 to 388,000 from a revised 391,000 during the prior week. It was the third straight week of decreases in unemployment claims and the second consecutive week new jobless claims were below the 400,000 level (See  Jobless Claims Total Lowest Since February ). Economists generally view the 400,000 level as the dividing line between a healthy job market and a slumbering one.

Not only have initial claims been dropping, but the seasonally adjusted four-week moving average for initial claims – widely followed because it irons out short-term volatility – was at its lowest level since March 1.   The average was at 408,750, a decrease of 11,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 420,500.   Jobless claims fell in all but three of the states and territories surveyed.

The number of long-term unemployed – those forced to cling to the jobless rolls – rose 63,000 to 3.65 million in the week ending July 19, the latest for which figures are available.

Finally, the latest jobless claims figure was lower than that forecast by analysts polled by Reuters who, on average, anticipated a 400,000 claims figure.