Jobless Claims Reach 26-Year High

The number of Americans filing new unemployment insurance claims jumped last week to a 26-year high, surpassing the number of filings economists had predicted.

From CNN Money:

The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial filings for state jobless benefits surged to 573,000 for the week ended Dec. 6. That was an increase of 58,000 from a revised 515,000 claims in the previous week.

It was the highest number of jobless claims since Nov. 27, 1982 when initial filings hit 612,000. Economists were expecting jobless claims increase to 525,000, according to a consensus compiled by Briefing.com.

The four-week moving average of jobless claims, which works to eliminate fluctuations in data was 540,500 last week, an increase of 14,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 526,250.

One economist said the number of initial claims decreased in the previous report because the data from that report represented the week of Thanksgiving. Some of the surge in initial filings in this current report could be a bounce from that week.

However, “the underlying trend in the labor market is that it continues to weaken,” said Jay Bryson, global economist with Wachovia Economics, and that is evident in the 4-week moving averages of initial claims.

The number of people continuing to collect unemployment rose to 4,429,000 in the week ended Nov. 29, the most recent week available, which was also a 26-year high. The measure was an increase of 338,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 4,091,000.

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