Initial Jobless Claims Fall 31,000 to 473,000

unemployment line
unemployment line

Initial jobless claims fell more than expected, easing concerns that a weak economy will force unemployment even higher.

Jobless claims fell 31,000 to 473,000 in the week ending Aug. 21, the Department of Labor said. The revised figure for the previous week was 504,000.

A survey of economists by Bloomberg News had forecast jobless claims of 490,000. There were no special factors influencing today's figures, according to the Department of Labor.

This is the first decline in initial jobless claims in a month as a decelerating recovery has weakened the labor market. Earlier this month, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke forecast that the economic recovery would be "more modest" than previously thought.

Economic indicators, such as the slump in existing home sales to the lowest in a decade, added to the gloom.

"The U.S. has taken a big pause, not just in terms of jobs growth but in terms of the broader economy," Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, told Bloomberg News before the report.

The four-week moving average, a clearer measure of unemployment trends, rose by 3,250 to 486,750, the Department of Labor said. The revised average for the previous week was 483,500.