First-time claims for state unemployment benefits declined by 9,000 in the week ending February 16, the Labor Department reported. Total number of filings were349,000, compared to an upwardly revised 358,000 the previous week. Jobless claims were revised from a decrease of 9,000 to an increase of 1,000 in the week ending February 9.
The report on the health of the labor market was worse than expected. Economists had expected claims to fall to 345,000 for the past week. The 4-week moving average, a less volatile measure which smoothes out any discrepancies, like a strike or weather-related incidents, rose by 10,750 to 360,500. Readings consistently higher than 350,000 is usually indicative of a weakening labor market, which tends to point to a recession.
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