Jobless Claims totals Continue Southward Journey

May 6, 2004 ( - The number of jobless Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits continued dropping last week to its lowest level since 2000.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) said claims for the week ending May 1 were down 25,000 to 315,000 – the third straight week of declines.

The four-week moving claims average , which irons out short- fluctuations, retreated by 3,750 to 343,250.  Also, the number of jobless workers forced to cling to the unemployment rolls because of problems finding work, dropped 69,000 to 2.93 million in the week ended April 24 – the lowest since June 2001.

Job-market watchers are eagerly awaiting Friday’s DoL report on April non-farm payrolls, which is forecast to show 173,000 new jobs created, according to Reuters. That would be a marked moderation from March when 308,000 were added (See Job Market Roars to LIfe in March ).

Wall Street analysts had forecast a slight fall in first-time claims in the May 1 week to 335,000 from a revised 340,000 the previous week.