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US jobless claims hit 26-year high

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02/09/2009 04:20 AM
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US jobless claims hit 26-year high
US jobless claims hit 26-year high
Labor Department data released yesterday showed that initial applications for unemployment benefits reached 626,000 last week, a 26-year high. The figure far surpassed economists’ expectations of 583,000 new claims and was accompanied by an increase in the number of those remaining on the unemployment register to 4.8 million, the largest number since records began in 1967.

The latest data confirms that the US economy is continuing to contract at an accelerating pace. Broad layers of the population are being hit with mounting layoffs, wage cuts, and worse working conditions.

Official unemployment figures due to be released later today are expected to show a 7.5 percent jobless rate. According to an estimate released Wednesday by payroll firm Automatic Data Processing and consultancy group Macroeconomic Advisers, private sector jobs fell by 522,000 in January—higher than the 508,000 loss forecast by economists participating in a Dow Jones Newswire survey.

“What’s striking is the depth and breadth of the job losses,” Macroeconomic Advisers chairman Joel Prakken said. “Sharply falling employment at medium and small size businesses clearly indicates that the recession continues to spread well beyond manufacturing and housing-related activities.”
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