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US : jobless claims surge higher

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New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits climbed sharply last week after two weeks of decline, signaling  weakening in the labor market, official data showed Thursday.    Initial jobless claims rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 418,000 in the week ending July 16, the Labor Department said.    The claims surge was stronger than expected, above the consensus analyst  estimate of 411,000 claims.   

The department upwardly revised the prior week’s claims by 3,000 to 408,000.

The four-week moving average, which helps to smooth weekly volatility, fell to 421,250 from a revised 424,000.

A Minnesota state government shutdown affected the claims number for the third consecutive week, but only resulted in 1,750 new claims last week, the  department noted.

Initial jobless claims have held above the 400,000 threshold for 15  straight weeks. In the prior week ending July 9, claims had fallen the lowest since April but many analysts said that was not sustainable amid the faltering economy.

The latest claims numbers appeared to confirm continued slack in the labor market as businesses are reluctant to hire in the face of weak demand. In June, job creation stalled and the unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent.

Washngton, July 21, 2011 (AFP)