Weekly Jobless Benefit Requests Plunge to 2001 Levels

April 8, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The number of unemployed workers lining up for first-time jobless benefits plunged to the lowest level since early 2001, the government said.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) announced that the total claims fell an unexpectedly steep 14,000 in the week ending April 3 to 328,000 from 342,000 the prior week (See  Jobless Aid Requests Dip by 3,000 ). That was the lowest since 320,000 for the week ending January 13, 2001.

The closely watched four-week moving average of new claims, which irons out weekly fluctuations, dropped 3,250 last week to 336,750 – the lowest since 335,750 in the week of November 25, 2000.

The latest claims drop f ar exceeded forecasts by Wall Street economists participating in Reuters regular poll who predicted a decline of 2,000.

Last week, the government reported a steep climb in new jobs during March with 308,000 positions added to non-farm payrolls (See  Job Market Roars to LIfe in March ).