Jobless claims on the rise

New jobless claims rose for the second week in a row, which suggests that many U.S. workers are still suffering from an economy that is in recession. The Dept. of Labor said that for the workweek ending December 29, new claims for jobless benefits jumped by a seasonally adjusted 36,000 to 447,000. The week before, new jobless claims rose by 26,000, according to revised figures. In the jobless claims report, a government analyst offered no specific reason for the big increases in new claims but noted that they tend to be volatile during the holiday season. The more stable four-week moving average of claims, which smoothes out week-to-week fluctuations, declined last week to 409,750, the lowest level since Sept. 1. It marked the fourth straight week that the moving average fell. U.S. companies announced nearly 2 million job cuts in 2001, more than three times as many layoffs as in 2000, job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said.

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