National

Feb 25, 2010 9:54 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

New layoffs soar to nearly half million

The number of new claims for unemployment benefits jumped unexpectedly last week as heavy snows caused layoffs to rise.

A Labor Department analyst says mid-Atlantic and New England states are still processing a spike in claims stemming from the bad weather two weeks ago.

The department says first-time claims for unemployment insurance rose by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 496,000. Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a drop to 455,000. The four-week average, which smooths volatility, rose by 6,000 to 473,750.

Continuing claims were essentially unchanged at 4.6 million. Initial claims are considered a gauge of the pace of layoffs and an indication of companies' willingness to hire new workers.

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