Jobless claims are highest since 2005

The number of U.S. workers applying for unemployment benefits increased by 38,000 last week—the highest reading since September 2005.

This increase brought the total number of initial jobless claims to 407,000; economists polled by Reuters had expected claims to increase to 370,000.

"The trend is for rising employment," says Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, N.J. "There's no doubt about it."

The four-week moving average, which smoothes out weekly data swings and shows trends, of new jobless claims increased to 374,500, the highest reading since October 2005. In addition, the number of workers remaining on jobless benefits rose 97,000 to 2.94 million—forecasts were for 2.87 million—during the week ending March 22; this was the highest reading since July 2004.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said unemployment will increase as the U.S. economy slows during the first half of the year.

Date : 4/4/2008