Jobless Claims Turn Down

July 17, 2003 ( - The good news in Thursday's regular jobless claims report was that the number of Americans queuing up for initial benefits plunged by 29,000 last week. The bad news: the total is still well above a recessionary benchmark.

According to US Department of Labor (DoL) data for the week ending July 12, claims dropped to 412, 000 from a revised 441,000 the week before.  The four-week moving average – a closely watched figure because it irons out short-term volatility – was 424,000, down 3,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 427,500.

The DoL reported that the number of Americans clinging to the jobless rolls during the week ending July 5 was 3.65 million, a decrease of 117,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3.77 million. Analysts were expecting 425,000 new claims for the latest report.

The DoL’s data for the July 12 week follows two consecutive weekly gains in jobless claims to a 439,000 total for the July 5 week (See  Initial Jobless Claims Jump For Second Week).  T he government also reported last week that the nation’s June unemployment rate shot up to 6.4% from May’s 6.1%, representing its highest level since April 1994 (See Jobless Claims Spike Higher For Week, Month ).

Economists continue to fret about the fact that the jobless claims totals have been stuck above the 400,000 mark – a widely accepted indicator of a sluggish employment market.