The number of people who filed new applications for jobless benefits leaped 43,000 last week to 474,000, the highest level in almost nine months. A Labor official attributed much of the increase to temporary layoffs in the auto sector and in the state of New York, where workers in the educational field such as bus drivers are eligible for compensation during the week of spring break. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected claims to fall to seasonally adjusted 412,000 from the prior week's revised level of 431,000. The average of new claims over the past four weeks, meanwhile, climbed by 22,250 to 431,250, the highest level since November. The four-week average is considered more accurate a gauge of employment trends because it lessens week-to-week volatility in the data. Also, the government said the number of workers who continue to receive state compensation increased by 74,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.73 million in the week of April 23. Altogether, 8.01 million people received some kind of state or federal benefit in the week of April 16, down 171,547 from the prior weekThis is clearly a major move in the wrong direction. More importantly, a jump like this is a signal of a huge slowdown coming. In short -- not good, not good at all.
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