Jobless claims fall, outlook doesn't change

The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 554,000 during the week ending Dec. 13, according to However, jobless claims still are 200,000 higher than a year ago.

This drop came after jobless claims had hit a 26-year peak during the week ending Dec. 6. The Thanksgiving holiday had distorted some of the data for the holiday week and the week after, which was revised to 575,000.

“This provides further evidence that not only are we in a deep recession, it may be one of the worst recessions seen in the past 50 years,” says Dana Saporta, an analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort, New York.

Despite this brief reprieve, claims are expected to resume their upward trend as more companies lay off workers. The four-week moving average of new jobless claims increased to 543,750 during the week ending Dec. 6, and continuing claims fell to 4.38 million from 4.43 million.

Date : 12/19/2008