Unemployment Claims See Modest Fall

March 4, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The number of jobless Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits dipped slightly last week exactly as labor market analysts had predicted.

According to the US Department of Labor (DoL), the total claims for the week ending February 28 fell modestly by 7,000 to 345,000 from a revised 352,000 the previous week (See  Unemployment Claims Total Up Modestly ). In an unusual development, economists participating in Reuters’ weekly survey had called for the 345,000 claims figure.

The closely watched February 28 four-week moving claims average, which irons out short-term volatility, fell 3,000 to 352,250 from a revised 355,250 the prior week. The number of people forced to cling to the jobless rolls because of difficulty finding work was flat at 3.09 million in the week ending February 21.

Job-market watchers also eagerly await February’s employment report on Friday. Wall Street expects businesses to have added 125,000 new workers to non-farm payrolls last month, up from January’s 112,000 increase and the highest figure since July 2000. The unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 5.6%.