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Jobless Claims Rise to 442,000

June 5, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) _The number of American workers filing new claims for jobless benefits climbed to a five-week high last week as companies coped with an economy that is struggling to get back on firm footing.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications for unemployment insurance rose by a seasonally adjusted 16,000 to 442,000 for the work week ending May 31. The increase pushed claims to their highest level since the week ending April 26.

Last week’s rise surprised economists, who were predicting claims would fall to 421,000.

Some of last week’s sharp increase in claims probably reflected seasonal adjustment difficulties related to the Memorial Day holiday, a Labor Department analyst said.

Even so, for 16 straight weeks new claims have been running above the 400,000 mark _ a level associated with a largely stagnant job market, economists say.

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