Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jobless claims rise due to weather-related factors

WILMINGTON, OH - DECEMBER 16:  Layed-off worke...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

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WASHINGTON – New claims for unemployment benefits jumped unexpectedly last week, mostly because state agencies processed a backlog of claims caused by snowstorms the previous week.

The severe weather also increased temporary layoffs in the weather-sensitive construction and transportation industries.

"The fact that these snowstorms — as bad as they were — could have such an impact is more testimony to the fragility of the recovery," Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, wrote in a note to clients. "The recovery is still on thin ice and lost momentum in the first quarter."

The four-week average of claims, which smooths volatility, rose by 6,000 to 473,750

The four-week figure is now well above the 425,000 level that many economists say would signal net hiring.

About 5.7 million people received extended benefits in the week that ended Feb. 6, down from more than 6 million the previous week. All told, more than 11 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits.

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