NEW YORK (CNNfn) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week was the highest in more than two years, the government reported Thursday.|
The Labor Department said the number of first-time claims climbed to 358,000 for the week ended Nov. 25 from a revised 339,000 the previous week. That's the highest total since the 384,000 claims in the July 4, 1998 week.
Economists polled by Briefing.com had forecast claims of 330,000 for the period.
The Labor Department's four-week moving average of claims, which generally provides a more accurate picture of jobless trends, was 343,000 for the period, up from 331,000. The four-week moving average is the highest since 355,250 in the July 18, 1998 week.
Continued claims were reported at 2,338,000 for the Nov. 18 week, the latest period for which data are available, up from a revised 2,229,000 in the prior period. U.S. continued claims in the Nov. 18 week are the highest since 2,409,000 in the July 25, 1998 week.
Twenty-six states reported an increase in claims of more than 1,000 in the week ended Nov. 18, the latest period for which data are available. California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Alabama and New Jersey were among those reporting the most claims for the period.