- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

The number of people filing first-time jobless claims increased last week and those already receiving benefits hit a record for 10th straight week, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday morning.

The agency said initial claims for unemployment insurance increased to a seasonally adjusted 669,000 — 12,000 more than the previous week’s revised figures.

The number exceeded analysts expectations and is the highest in more than 26 years. However, the workforce has grown by about half since that time.

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The number of laid-off workers filing claims for more than a week increased by 161,000, to 5.73 million — a 10th straight record high.

The report was disappointing news compared to other U.S. economic indicators released this week that suggest the U.S. economy has bottomed out and recovering.

Private-sector employment decreased by 742,000 in March, according to a report Wednesday by Automatic Data Processing Inc.

Also Wednesday, pending home sales rebounded in February from a record low, according to the National Association of Realtors. And the Institute for Supply Management reported U.S. manufacturing activity shrunk by less than anticipated.

The Labor Department report released Thursday morning also found first-time unemployment claims filed under state programs, adjusted, reached 594,464 in the week ending March 28 — an increase of 4,397 from the previous week. There were 341,846 initial claims in the comparable week in 2008, according to the agency.

The highest insured-unemployment rates in the week ending March 14 were in Michigan (8.1 percent), Oregon (7.7), Rhode Island (7.3), Idaho (7.2), Pennsylvania (7.0), Wisconsin (6.8), Nevada (6.3), Montana (6.1), Alaska (6.0), and Vermont (6.0).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending March 21 were in California, 6,720; Missouri, 2,942; Kansas, 2,018; Oklahoma, 1,406; and Iowa, 1,134.

The largest decreases were in Texas, 4,822; New York, 3,172; Tennessee, 2,707; Illinois, 1,485; and Virginia 1,407.

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