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Jobless claims top 400,000
April 26, 2001: 9:24 a.m. ET

Initial unemployment claims at highest level in more than five years
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - The number of new jobless claims in the United States rose to its highest level in more than five years, the government reported Thursday, a sign that the labor market is weakening as the U.S. economy staggers.

The U.S. Labor Department said new claims for state unemployment benefits rose by 18,000 to 408,000 in the week ended April 21 from a revised 390,000 in the prior week.

A consensus of economists surveyed by expected 390,000 claims for the week.

It was the highest level since 428,000 claims were reported for the week ended March 23, 1996, the department said, and the fourth straight weekly gain.

The four-week moving average rose to 394,500 from the previous week's revised 383,750. Economists watch the four-week moving average more closely because it gives a better reading on the health of the labor market by smoothing out fluctuations in the weekly data.

New Jersey said it had more layoffs in the trade, service and transportation industries. North Carolina reported fewer layoffs in construction, trade, textiles, apparel and furniture, while Texas reported fewer layoffs in trade, service, non-electrical machinery, electrical equipment and transportation equipment.

Alabama had fewer layoffs in electrical machinery and rubber/plastics.

Pennsylvania had fewer layoffs in the construction, food, textile, apparel, trade, service, primary metals and fabricated metals industries. graphic