Initial jobless claims surged by 38,000, to 445,000, in the week ended Mar. 29, contrary to expectations of only a modest increase in claims to the 410,000 level. The gain pushed claims to the highest level since last April and came in sharp contrast to the moderation in the series seen over the past three weeks. Claims remained above 400,000 for the seventh consecutive week. The number of claimants receiving benefits jumped 107,000 to 3,608,000, the highest level since December, 2001.
The elevated level of claims may suggest that uncertainty over the war has impacted companies' hiring plans. The report also suggests a weaker March economy and labor market going into the release of the employment report for the month on Apr. 4. The data continue the string of bad economic reports, but the market is trading on war, not economics.