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Weekly Jobless Claims Jump Back Over 400,000 Mark
The Associated Press | December 01, 2011 | 08:39 AM EST

Claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose last week, climbing past the psychologically important 400,000 mark as the jobs market showed signs of more weakness.

Weekly applications for unemployment benefits rose 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 402,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Applications had been below 400,000 for three straight weeks.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, was mostly unchanged at slightly below 400,000.

The average fell to a seven-month low two weeks ago. Weekly applications had been declining for two months.

Applications would need to stay below 375,000 consistently to push down the unemployment rate significantly. They haven't been at that level since February.

The report comes one day before the government reports on job growth in November. Economists project that employers added a net 125,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate stayed at 9 percent for the second straight month.

While the job growth would be an improvement from October, when the economy added just 80,000 jobs, it's still barely enough to keep pace with population growth.

Some economists are more optimistic after payroll provider ADP said Wednesday that companies added 206,000 workers last month, the most this year. That survey doesn't include government agencies, which have been cutting jobs.

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