Weekly jobless claims climb 51,000 to 454,000 (by Jeffry Bartash)
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - New applications for unemployment benefits jumped last week by 51,000 to 454,000, partly because poor weather caused administrative backlogs in four Southern states, the Labor Department reported Thursday. A labor spokesman said snowstorms earlier in the month forced unemployment offices in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina to open fewer hours and process fewer claims. A reduction in the backlog contributed to the sharp increase in new claims, the spokesman said. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected initial claims in the week ended Jan. 22 to rise to a seasonally adjusted 408,000 from a revised 403,000 the week before. Continuing claims, which reflect the number of people already receiving unemployment compensation, rose 94,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.99 million in the week ended Jan. 15. About 9.41 million Americans were getting some kind of state or federal benefit in the week ended Jan. 8, down 223,826 from the prior week.