THE number of Americans filing for the first time for unemployment benefits dropped by 47,000 last week, the government said yesterday. It was the biggest decline in six months.
The Labor Department reported a seasonally adjusted 366,000 initial claims filed at state unemployment offices in the week ended Feb. 5, down from a revised 413,000 the previous week. That figure was first reported at 422,000. The decline was the largest since July 31, 1993, when the number of initial claims went down by 56,000. Most economists had expected a sizable decline after a steep rise the previous week. The report provided evidence of continuing fluctuations in the nation's job market, which has been on a roller-coaster ride for months.
The Labor Department also said 6,010 people in all 53 states and territories filed claims under a federal emergency employment program, down from a revised 7,615 the previous week.
California, still feeling the effects of the Los Angeles-area earthquake, had the biggest increase in first-time claims with 17,015. Reporting the biggest increases after California were Pennsylvania with 10,445; Tennessee with 9,229; Connecticut with 6,208; and New York with 4,718. Both Pennsylvania and Tennessee reported layoffs in a broad range of industries.
Reporting the largest decreases were Wisconsin with 3,475; Kentucky with 1,800; Ohio with 1,226; Iowa with 1,111; and Massachusetts with 930.