February 5, 2009
First-time claims for state unemployment benefits surged in the latest week to the highest level in over 26 years, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The number of initial claims in the week ending January 31 rose 35,000 to 626,000. It’s the highest level since the week ended Oct. 30, 1982. The consensus forecast of Wall Street economists was for claims to be relatively steady around 580,000. Claims in the previous week were revised to an increase of 6,000 to 591,000 compared with the initial estimate of a rise of 3,000 to 588,000. The four-week average of initial claims rose 39,000 to 582,250. Meanwhile, the number of Americans receiving state jobless benefits rose 20,000 to a record 4.79 million in the week ending January 24. The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose 44,000 to 4.67 million.