9:03am

Thu May 5, 2011
The Two-Way

Jobless Claims Rise Sharply

There were 474,000 first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, up 43,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reports.

That's the highest level in eight months, The Associated Press writes. The wire service adds that:

"A Labor department spokesman blamed much of the increase in unemployment applications on an unexpected spike from New York. More school systems than usual closed for spring break last week. That resulted in 25,000 layoffs. The department didn't anticipate the closures when making seasonal adjustments, the spokesman said.

"Other factors also contributed to the increase, the spokesman said. Oregon launched its own extended unemployment benefit program, which caused an increase in overall applications in the state for unemployment benefits. And auto-related layoffs rose, as some companies have shut down or slowed production due to parts shortages stemming from the earthquake in Japan."

Also this morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that productivity rose at a 1.6 percent annual rate in the first quarter.

And, General Motors said it earned $3.2 billion in the first quarter. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.