Jobless Claims Rise by 5,000

Thursday, October 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans filing new applications for state unemployment benefits rose last week to its highest point since mid- September, suggesting business demand for workers may be easing a bit but remains strong.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that new claims for jobless benefits increased to a seasonally adjusted 306,000 for the week ending Oct. 7 — in line with many analysts' expectations.

That was up by 5,000 from the previous week and pushed claims to their highest level since Sept. 16, when they stood at 310,000.

The more stable four-week moving average of claims, which smoothes out week-to-week volatility, fell last week to 301,500, the lowest point since Aug. 19, when claims were at 290,250.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 305 points in early trading as an earnings warning from home improvement retailer Home Depot added to fears that the market has yet to bottom out. The Nasdaq lost 50 points in the first hour.

The nation's labor market — while showing signs of loosening a bit over the past several months — still remains tight, economists said. That means employers are having trouble finding qualified workers to fill openings.

A tight labor market is good for workers. But economists are always watchful for signs that the tight labor market will trigger wage and price inflation.

They worry that wages and benefits could rise too sharply as employers struggle to recruit and retain workers — added costs that companies could pass along to consumers as higher prices. That has not happened yet.

The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates six times since June 1999 with the goal of slowing the economy enough to prevent inflation without retarding growth enough to cause a recession.

Last week, the government reported the nation's unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in September from 4.1 percent in August, suggesting that the economy continues to grow at a brisk pace.

For the work week ending Sept. 30, 28 states and territories reported increases in new jobless claims, while 24 reported decreases, the jobless report said. That information lags a week behind the national figures and is based on seasonally unadjusted claims data.

California reported the largest increase in claims, up by 2,125. Officials did not comment on the reason. Other states with increases included: Florida, up 1,645; Oregon, up 1,585; and Kentucky, up 1,453.

North Carolina had the largest decrease with claims down by 3,072. Fewer layoffs in the textile, furniture, non-electrical machinery and lumber industries accounted for the decline, officials said.


On the Net: Jobless claims report: