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Initial Claims Rise to 471,000

Initial jobless claims grew to a seasonally adjusted 471,000 last week from an upwardly revised 446,000, the Labor Department said.
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WASHINGTON (

TheStreet

) -- In a dreary surprise, the number of first-time filers for state unemployment benefits climbed significantly higher last week, according to a government estimate released Thursday.

Initial jobless claims remained stubbornly above the 450,000 level for the week ending May 15, this time growing to a seasonally adjusted 471,000 from an upwardly revised 446,000, the Labor Department said. On average, Wall Street was looking for new claims to drop to 439,000 from the prior week's pre-revised 444,000 total.

The moving average of new claims over the past four weeks also inched up by 3,000 to 453,500, though the number of those continuing on jobless benefit roles edged down to 4.625 million for the week ending May 8 from 4.665 million.

Though the number of first-timers filing for state unemployment insurance have fallen precipitously since their worst levels last year, suggesting layoffs eased within that period, the number of applicants have continued to meander around this level for the past few months. A report from the

Associated Press

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noted that economists need to see initial claims fall below 425,000 for a duration in order to suggest certifiable gains in the labor market.

And while several indicators have demonstrated improvement in the job market -- the government estimated that employers added another 290,000 jobs to payrolls last month, for instance -- Thursday's jobless claims estimates, again, demonstrate that conditions still remain fragile. Just this week,

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said it was shedding another 6,000 jobs from its worldwide labor force, while

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said it would trim its job corps by 10% to 15%.

--Written by Sung Moss in New York