Thursday, April 03, 2008
New claims filed for unemployment benefits surged to 407,000 last week, the first time the psychologically important 400,000 level has been breached since 2003, excluding the hurricane-affected period in September of 2005.
The four-week moving average, a less volatile indicator of job losses, rose from 358,750 to 374,500 and the number of people continuing to collect unemployment benefits rose to the highest level since July of 2004. For the week ending March 22, the most recent period for which data is available, continuing claims rose 97,000 to 2.94 million.
When Fed Chief Ben Bernanke returns to Capitol Hill today, he may want to consider upgrading his recession forecast from "possible" to "probable".
Anticipation for tomorrow's monthly employment report has been ratcheted up another notch - the consensus estimate is for a decline of 50,000 in nonfarm payrolls.