The number of new jobless claims in the United States rose by 1.2 percent to 652,000 during the week ending March 21 as the country reeled from recession, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
The initial claims for unemployment benefits was roughly in line with the 650,000 figure forecast by analysts and marked an increase of 8,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 644,000. The claims peaked two weeks ago at 657,000, a 26-year high.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, a more reliable indicator of unemployment trends, was 649,000, down by 1,000 from the previous week's revised average of 650,000, the department said.
It said that the number of people receiving unemployment benefits for the week ending March 14 increased to a new record high of 5.56 million, an increase of 122,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 5.43 million.
The weekly report gives the most current snapshot of the labor market but is subject to volatility. The latest monthly report showed February unemployment rate had jumped to a 25-year high of 8.1 percent, from from 7.6 percent in January as employers shed payrolls to cope with the economic slide.