June 17, 2004


U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Fell 15,000 to 336,000 Last Week (Bloomberg, 6/17/04)

The number of Americans filing initial jobless claims fell to 336,000 last week as rising demand prompted companies to retain workers, a government report showed.

First-time applications for unemployment benefits fell by 15,000 in a week curtailed by the national day of mourning for former President Ronald Reagan, from a revised 351,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said in Washington. The four- week moving average of claims, a less volatile measure, fell to 343,250 from 346,000.

The average number of weekly claims this year has fallen to 346,917 from about 402,000 last year as rising sales and profits have given companies confidence to boost hiring. The U.S. economy added 1.2 million jobs in the first five months of 2004 and those gains are likely to be sustained, economists said.

``We're in the early stages of a long expansion,'' said Douglas Lee, president of Economics From Washington, a research firm in Potomac, Maryland, before the report.

Economists had expected the number of claims reported today to fall to 340,000 from the 352,000 initially reported last week, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. The 39 estimates ranged from 330,000 to 355,000.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 17, 2004 9:40 AM
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