Unemployment Claims Highest in More Than a Year

April 24, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The US job market continued to erode last week as the number of Americans applying for jobless benefits soared to its highest level since March 2002.

The US Department of Labor (DoL) reported 455,000 claims for the week ending April 19, an 8,000 increase from a revised 447,000 the previous week. The latest report follows a 30,000 claims hike for the week ending April 12 (See  Job Market Slumbers On; Unemployment Claims Skyrocket).    

The latest DoL data represented the tenth straight week that the total claims clung stubbornly above the 400,000 level – widely considered a key benchmark of a still slumbering labor market. Economists in Reuters’ regular weekly poll had predicted a claims drop to 425,000.

The four week-moving average for claims — considered a more reliable measure because it irons out short-term fluctuations — increased to 439,250, up 13,250 from the previous week revised figure of 426,000. That was the highest level in a year.

The number of workers continuing on state unemployment benefits jumped 42,000 to 3.6 million for the week ending April 12.