The U.S. Labor Department Thursday said first-time jobless benefits claims rose by 78,000 in the week ending Saturday.
Initial claims jumped out of a relatively comfortable 355,000 claims -- the third lowest week since the recession ended in June 2009 -- to 439,000 with the four-week rolling average up 11,750 to 383,750.
The weekly figure has been volatile of late -- rising by 46,000 one week in mid-October, for example, but a one-week jump of 78,000 is a clear setback. First time claims have not been this high since the week of April 30, 2011.
The jump is clearly part of the handiwork of Hurricane Sandy, which ripped through the East Coast causing by some estimations as much as $50 billion in damage.
The Hurricane had a one-two punch on the jobless claims statistics. First, it caused some filing to be delayed by a week. Second, it caused some businesses to close down, triggering a push for unemployment benefits.
The advance number of unadjusted actual first-time jobless benefits claims under state programs totaled 466,348 for the week, an increase of 104,548 from the previous week, the Labor Department said.
There were 363,016 initial benefits claims in the comparable week in 2011, the department's Employment and Training Administration said.
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