Recent Jobless Claims Rise, Four-Week Average Falls

By John S. McClenahen Bucking the trend for the second time in two months, initial claims for unemployment insurance in the U.S. rose in the week ending Jan. 26. The seasonally adjusted figure was 390,000, an increase of 30,000 from the week ending Jan. 19, reports the U.S. Labor Department's Employment & Training Administration. However, the four-week running average for jobless claims was 386,000 during the last week of January, a decrease of 15,250 from the previous week. "Jobless claims data suggest that the labor market is stabilizing and the worst of the [economic] downturn is over," says Gerald D. Cohen, a senior economist at Merrill Lynch & Co., New York. "Although jobless claims rose 30,000 to 390,000 for the week ending Jan. 26, this was the fourth consecutive week that claims have been under 400,000." Some economists see 400,000 as a kind of tipping point, with weekly claims running below that figure considered to be an element of economic recovery.

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