Long-term Jobless Benefit Recipients Total Highest Since 2001

May 15, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The number of Americans applying for first-time jobless benefits fell for the second week in a row, but the number of unemployed who remained on the benefit rolls shot up to the highest level since November 2001.

According to the US Department of Labor (DoL), initial claims for the week ending May 10 dropped by 13,000 to 417,000 from a revised 430,000. The four-week moving average, a widely followed benchmark because it smoothes out short-term volatility, also headed south.   The DoL said the average was down 7,500 to 439,750 from a revised 447,250. That was the lowest point for the average in a month.

The only significant dark cloud in the DoL’s regular picture of the US job market’s health was word that those needing continuing unemployment benefits skyrocketed by 120,000 to 3.77 million for the May 3 week – the latest available data. That marked its highest level since the middle of November 2001, when the US economy was reeling from effects of the September 11 terror attacks.

Economists in Reuters’ regular poll had predicted that claims would hold steady at the 425,000 level originally reported for the May 3 week.For the May 3 week, the DoL said the initial claims dropped 28,000 (See Jobless Claims Average Hits 12-Month High).