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Unemployment claims higher than expected

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The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment insurance last week was higher than economists expected, indicating continued weakness in the nation’s economy, CNNMoney.com reported.

The U.S. Department of Labor said today that initial filings for state jobless benefits reached 481,000 for the week ended Nov. 1.

Though that was 4,000 lower than the revised 485,000 reported the week before, it was more than the 476,000 claims expected by economists surveyed by Briefing.com. The prior week was revised upward from the originally reported 479,000.

The number of jobless claims spiked in late September to 499,000, the highest level recorded since the 517,000 claims filed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

On Wednesday, a private outplacement firm reported that last month had the highest number of pink slips handed out since January 2004. The job cut announcements soared to 112,884, up 19 percent from September’s 95,094 cuts, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Separately, payroll manager ADP said the private sector lost a seasonally adjusted 157,000 jobs last month — more than six times September’s decrease and the largest total since December 2001.

The Department of Labor’s monthly unemployment report due Friday is expected to show that 200,000 jobs were lost in October and that the unemployment rate grew to 6.3 percent, up from 6.1 percent a month earlier.

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