Initial Jobless Claims Rise Unexpectedly

Washington, DC, Feb. 26, 2009--Initial jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week and total benefit rolls soared to a record high.

First-time unemployment applications increased by 36,000 to 667,000, the highest since 1982, in the week that ended on Feb. 21 from a revised 631,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said.

Job losses are crippling the consumer spending that makes up about 70 percent of the economy, threatening to prolong what may be the worst recession in the postwar era.