Superstorm Sandy pushes U.S. jobless claims to 439K

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The number of people filing for first time unemployment benefits soared 78,000 last week to the highest level in more than a year and a-half, as the effects of Hurricane Sandy the previous week were reflected in government data.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that 439,000 people filed for first-time benefits last week, the highest number since April 2011.

The number of people filing for help the previous week was also revised up by 6,000 to 361,000. The spike in the latest reading was the biggest one-week rise in those filing for help since September 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The four-week average of those filing for help for the first time reached 383,750, up 11,750 from the previous week. That less volatile reading is watched by economists because it is not as subject to short-term spikes and drops.

The Labor Department did not…

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