The number of new claims for jobless benefits jumped more than expected last week, as companies continue to cut jobs at a furious pace. The Labor Department reported today that initial claims rose to a seasonally adjusted 589,000, from an upwardly revised figure of 527,000 the previous week. The tally was well above Wall Street economists' expectations of 540,000 new claims.
The total matches a 26-year high reached four weeks ago. The increase is partly due to a backlog of claims that piled up in recent weeks in states that experienced computer crashes due to a crush of applications. The number of people continuing to seek benefits rose by 97,000 to 4.6 million, above analysts' expectations of 4.55 million, up substantially from 2.7 million a year ago.