The U.S. Labor Department said initial jobless claims, a
closely-watched measure of layoffs, jumped to 637,000 for the week
ended May 9th. This was up 32,000 from the previous week's revised
total of 605,000.

The 4-week moving average for initial
claims, a statistic that flattens out week-to-week fluctuations in the
data, rose to 630,500 compared to a revised reading of 624,500 in the
previous week.

The number of people receiving ongoing
unemployment help, a figure known as continuing claims, rose more than
200,000 to reach another record high.

Continuing claims totaled
6.560 million for the week ended May 2nd, the most recent week for
which the government has data. This was up 202,000 from the previous
week - the 15th consecutive week in which continuing claims rose.