Unemployment Claims Rise Slightly

Thursday, September 2nd 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans filing new claims for
unemployment benefits inched up last week.
The Labor Department reported today that 289,000 Americans filed
new claims for jobless benefits for the week ending Aug. 28, up by
4,000 from the previous week. That was the highest since Aug. 14,
when claims matched last week's level.
The four-week moving average for claims, which smooths out
week-to-week volatility, was up to 286,500 last week. That was the
highest level since Aug. 7, when claims were at 288,250.
Last week's increase in new claims was in line with many
economists' expectations. Economists consider jobless claims levels
below 300,000 an indication of an extremely tight labor market.
Many economists expect the nation's unemployment rate -- now at
4.3 percent -- will return to a 29-year low of 4.2 percent when the
government releases its August unemployment report Friday.
The results are expected to offer an important clue as to
whether the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates again when
it meets in October.
Last week, the Fed bumped up interest rates for the second time
this year but signaled that no additional increases may be
necessary unless the economy shows signs of overheating or if
inflation flares.
The Labor Department said today that for the week ending Aug.
21, 14 states and territories reported increases in new jobless
claims, while 39 reported decreases. The state data lag a week
behind the national figures.
The state with the biggest increase in applications for jobless
benefits was Georgia, up 1,538. Officials blamed the increase on
layoffs in the textile industry.
Other states with increases were: South Carolina, up 659; New
York, up 333; New Mexico, up 157; and Missouri, up 131.
The state with the biggest decrease in jobless benefits claims
was Michigan, down 1,642. Officials didn't offer a reason for the
decline. Other states with decreases were: North Carolina, down
1,231; California, down 947; Pennsylvania, down 916; and Puerto
Rico, down 764.