First-time jobless claims rose to the highest levels since September 2005, according to a weekly report released today by the Labor Department. Claims for the week ending March 29 spiked by 38,000, to 407,000. Analysts were expecting a number closer to 366,000.
The four-week moving average also rose, increasing by 15,750 to 374,500. Economists see readings consistently higher than 350,000 as signaling significant weakening in the labor market. Initial claims ranging from about 300,000 to 325,000 are consistent with a healthy rate of U.S. employment growth.
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