Unemployment Claims Jump

Last week, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time rose to 460,000--that's 18,000 more than the week before. But balance that against new jobs being created and accepted, and you get an unchanged unemployment rate that still clocks in at 9.7. That's according to the latest numbers released by the United States Department of Labor.

Economists and employment pundits actually expected the number of newbie filing unemployment claims to fall, rather than rise last week, as the employment situation seems to be slowly improving. But it looks like first time claims have risen to levels last seen on Feb. 27 of this year. It seems to be a matter of two steps forward, one step back.

There was better news on the number of continuing claims filed during the latest measured week--it dropped by 131,000. The Department of Labor release stated that 4,550,000 people filed continuing claims, the lowest level since Dec. 20, 2008, and down 131,000 from the preceding week's 4,681,000 claims. But these numbers don't count people whose benefits expired or those who have moved to state or federal extensions. It reflects those filing each week after their initial claim until the end of their standard benefits, which usually last 26 weeks.

There was actually good news from states like Michigan, Illinois, Oklahoma and Missouri, which, believe it or not, had decreases of more than 1,000 in first time unemployment claims. According to the Department of Labor, that was due to fewer layoffs in the automobile, construction, trade, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing industries.

But states like California, New Jersey, Oregon and Texas, each with increases of new unemployment filings of more than 1,000, raised the numbers. That was mostly because of layoffs in the construction, trade, service, transportation, warehousing and manufacturing industries in New Jersey, and the layoffs in the finance, service and manufacturing industries in Texas.

Extended benefits continued to be available in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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