DEFINITION of 'Jobless Claims'

The number of people who are filing or have filed to receive unemployment insurance benefits, as reported weekly by the U.S. Department of Labor. There are two categories of jobless claims - initial, which comprises people filing for the first time, and continuing, which consists of unemployed people who have been receiving unemployment benefits for a while. Jobless claims are an important leading indicator on the state of the employment situation and the health of the economy. Average weekly initial jobless claims are one of the 10 components of The Conference Board Leading Economic Index.

BREAKING DOWN 'Jobless Claims'

Initial jobless claims, rather than continuing claims, are closely watched by financial market participants, since a sustained increase would indicate rising unemployment and a challenging economic environment. Since initial jobless claims may be volatile from week to week, the four-week moving average of jobless claims is also observed to get a better indication of the underlying trend.

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