Jobless claims at 4 month high

The unemployment numbers come out tomorrow and by the looks of things, it won't be very good news.


The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose to its highest level in four months last week, suggesting the labor market recovery lost some steam in March.

Employers are expected to have added 200,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, according to a Reuters survey, slowing from February's brisk 236,000. The jobless rate is seen unchanged at 7.7 percent.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 28,000 to a seasonally adjusted 385,000, the highest level since November, the Labor Department said on Thursday.


It was the third straight week of gains in claims. Coming on the heels of data on Wednesday showing private employers added the fewest jobs in five months in March, the report implied some weakening in job growth after hiring accelerated in February.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications last week to fall to 350,000.

The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, rose 11,250 to 354,250.

A Labor Department analyst said claims for California and the Virgin Islands had been estimated and there were no special factors in the underlying state-level data.

While the claims report has no bearing on Friday's nonfarm payrolls data for March as it falls outside the survey period, it hinted at some weakness in hiring.


We all know by now that we can safely ignore the "official" unemployment rate and concentrate on the "U-6" data which includes those unemployed, those too discouraged to look for work, and part timers. If that number ticks up, along with weak growth in the economy, we'll probably experience more "unexpected" declines in employment.