Newly released Labor Department numbers show that while economists had expected a drop in new jobless claims, the number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits has actually increased yet again-the fourth increase in the past five weeks.
Reported new claims reached 480,000, the highest figure in two months. The unemployment rate is forecast to rise to 10.1 percent.
Meanwhile, employers continue to cut jobs. Wal-Mart announced Wednesday that it will cut 300 jobs at headquarters, after cutting nearly 14,000 in the last year. Sony is cutting approximately 100 open positions and laying off 450 people.
Oregon had the greatest increase in claims. But there is some (slight) good news: California, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, and Missouri have all reported decreases.
Extended benefits were available in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin during the week ending Jan. 16.