The number fell to a lower than anticipated 373,000 from its revised 381,000 level the previous week.
Though the number is on a downward trend, it is still well above that reported the same time last year, when initial unemployment insurance claims were 344,000
The four-week moving average, considered a better barometer of the unemployment situation because it irons out weekly fluctuations, fell for the fourth week in a row, to 376,000 from 381,500, its lowest level since August last year.
The states with the largest decreases in initial claims for the week ending February 2, the latest week for which data are available, were:
- Georgia, where claims fell by -5,677, as layoffs in the textile industry moderated,
- Texas, where the figure dipped by -2,577, as layoffs moderated in the manufacturing, information, and wholesale trade industries, and
- Pennsylvania, down by -1,530, as fewer jobs were axed in the construction, food, primary metals and transportation industries
The latest report comes on the heels of yesterday’s data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which showed a significant increase in mass layoff actions in the fourth quarter of 2001.