Jobless Totals Take a Plunge

August 21, 2003 ( - The US job market continued showing signs of regaining its strength with a government report that the number of Americans queuing up for initial jobless benefits plummeted.

The US Department of Labor (DoL) said the claims total for the week ending August 16 dropped 17,000 to 386,000 from a revised 403,000.

The moving four-week claims average – widely followed because it irons out short-term volatility – dropped 1,250 to 394,250 from 395,500 in the prior week. It was below the key 400,000 mark – considered a dividing line between a healthy employment picture and a stagnant one – for the third week in a row.  

Once again, the latest claims total was below analysts’ predictions from Reuters’ weekly poll for a total of 395,000 claims. For the week ending August 9, the DoL reported that the claims total was up slightly  (See Jobless Claim Totals Uptick – But Only By a Sliver ).