See-Saw Jobless Report Back Above 400,000 Mark

October 17, 2002 ( - US Department of Labor data show the number of people filing for first-time jobless claims has risen back above the 400,000 mark.

While the US Department of Labor’s (DoL) report on first-time jobless claims enjoyed an unexpected large drop for the week ending October 5 (see  Jobless Claims Drop Biggest Since April ) the figures for the October 12 week show the much-watched economic indicator shot back up.

According to DoL data, jobless claims rose by 22,000 to 411,000 from a revised 389,000 for the October 5 week – the largest figure in more than four months. The October 12 figure was also significant because it represented a return to the over-400, 000 territory, which economists take as a recession indicator.  

The latest increase was also higher than Wall Street’s expectation for a rise to 395,000 from the 384,000 originally reported for the October 5 week.

The four-week moving average, a closely followed figure because it smoothes out short-term volatility, was 408,750. That represented a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 413,500.

Finally, in a sign that the pace of hiring has slowed, the number of unemployed who continued to draw benefits as of the week ended October. 5, rose by 141,000 to 3.76 million, the latest week for figures are available, according to the DoL.

The one-week rise was the largest since 155,000 in the November 25, 1995 week.