Jobless claims drop sharply

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The number of Americans filing for initial unemployment insurance fell sharply last week, according to government data released Thursday.

There were 440,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Feb. 6, down 43,000 from a revised 483,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said in a weekly report.

Economists were expecting initial claims to drop to 465,000, according to a consensus estimate from Briefing.com.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims, which smoothes out volatility in the measure, was 468,500. That's down 1,000 from the previous week's revised average of 469,500.

A Labor Department spokesman said the snow storm that crippled much of the East Coast last week did not impact the number of jobless claims filed.

"Next week's numbers will definitely be impacted by weather," said Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities. "But a drop in claims fits with the more positive news we saw in the January jobs report."

The Labor Department said last week that the U.S. unemployment rate fell unexpectedly in January to 9.7% from 10%. Businesses shed 20,000 jobs for the month, far fewer than the 150,000 jobs that were lost in December.

"There are some clear positives in the labor market," Vitner said, pointing to the manufacturing sector, to which some workers have returned to work after being unemployed for a short period of time.

Still, weekly initial claims totals remain "extremely high" and it is difficult to glean anything about the underlying trends in the job market from just one week of data, Vitner warned.

Continuing claims: The government said 4,538,000 people filed continuing claims in the week ended Jan. 30, the most recent data available. That's down 79,000 from the preceding week's revised 4,617,000 claims.

Economists were expecting continuing claims to have declined 2,000 to 4,600,000.

The 4-week moving average of continuing claims was 4,603,500, a drop of 17,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 4,621,250.

However, many economists say the decline in continuing claims reflects a growing number of filers who have dropped off the jobless rolls into extended unemployment benefits.

Continuing claims reflect people filing each week after their initial claim until the end of their standard benefits, which usually last 26 weeks. The figures do not include those people who have moved to state or federal extensions, or people whose benefits have expired.

"The number of people receiving extended benefits is unprecedented," Vitner said.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,810.06 91.06 0.51%
Nasdaq 4,712.97 11.10 0.24%
S&P 500 2,063.50 10.75 0.52%
Treasuries 2.32 -0.02 -0.86%
Data as of 7:18pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.12 0.12 0.71%
Kinder Morgan Inc 39.75 -0.17 -0.43%
Apple Inc 116.47 0.16 0.14%
Intel Corp 35.59 -0.36 -1.00%
Microsoft Corp 47.98 -0.72 -1.48%
Data as of Nov 21

Sections

This arrangement, announced Friday, illustrates how the lines have blurred between traditional TV networks and newfangled options like Netflix. More

The Obama administration is touting that its immigration action will boost wages. But the hike amounts to only $170 a year by 2024. More

Obama doesn't have the authority to create a startup visa, but part of his reform announcement could include a workaround for entrepreneurs: 'parole status.' More

Nearly half of all Americans say there's a chance they'll have to work during a holiday between Thanksgiving and New Year's, according to a new poll. And one in four say they'll have to work whether they want to or not. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.