US Jobless Claims Hit 8-Month High – Labor Dep’t

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Due to the rising costs of food and fuel, the US Labor Department said that new filings of jobless claims increased significantly to 474,000 last week – the highest in eight months.

The number of Americans filing for new jobless benefits increased by 43,000 last week, the highest in eight months, the United States Labor Department said in a report on Thursday.

Based on the data, the Labor Department said that the number of people filing for initial claims increased by 43,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 474,000 – the highest level since mid-August 2010.

Economists forecasted earlier that the unemployment claims will fall to about 410,000 during the period.

Many experts attributed the decline to the seasonal factors, including spring break layoffs and the introduction of an emergency benefit program.

Meanwhile, in a separate report, the Labor Department said that nonfarm productivity slowed down to annual rate of 1.6 percent in the first quarter of 2011, compared to 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. But the figures were still above analysts’ expectations of one percent.

According to the department, nonfarm payrolls increased to a dismal 186,000 in April, which is totally opposite from its March levels of 216,000 – the most hiring in over 10 months.

Economists said that they have expected the hiring rate in April to slow down, citing the higher food prices, increasing fuel costs, and slow economic recovery in the United States.

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