Jobless Claims Increase to 352,000

The latest unemployment claims report showed the initial jobless claims to go up while continued unemployment claims dropped. Initial claims were below the 400K level. Seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims went up 4,000 to 352,000 from last week’s 348,000. Seasonally adjusted continued claims dropped by 35,000 to 3.068 million to make the insured unemployment rate of 2.4 percent. Jobless

The number of people who applied for new unemployment benefits appeared to stabilize after the recent large swings. This indicated that companies are only hiring new workers.

Since the middle of 2008, two federal government sponsored extended unemployment benefit programs have increased claimants that could have caused the drop in traditional jobless benefits numbers. At present, there are around 1.78 million people getting federal extended jobless benefits.

When combined with the latest 3.29 million people who are receiving traditional continued jobless benefits, there are 5.07 million people on federal and state jobless numbers.

Economic indicators and manufacturing in the Philadelphia area was below the expectations of Wall Street. This is a negative sign for the US markets. US stocks traded lower last Thursday with earnings from eBay headlining the news.

Labor Department officials and economists said that the claims figures are volatile during Easter and spring break when the holiday falls in a different week than the usual. This can make it more difficult for the government to compute for seasonal adjustments.

Economists are more concerned about the four week average that is less volatile. Monthly claims went up by 2,750 to 361,250 to reach a two month high. The four week average remained at its lowest level in five years. IT would likely continue to drop in the next couple of weeks due to the effects of the end-March spike fade.

The recent batch of economic reports indicated the nation is still expanding but at a slow rate. Economists expected growth in the second quarter to decelerate sharply from the first quarter tTo 1.6 percent rate from the estimated 3 percent in the first three months.