The number of newly laid off workers filing for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level in nearly two months. Experts say it's further evidence that the weak economy is having an adverse impact on the labor market.
The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for jobless benefits totaled 378,000 last week. That was an increase of 22,000 from the previous week and a far bigger jump than had been expected.
The current economic slowdown, which many economists believe has already turned into a full-blown recession, is starting to show up in the labor market in terms of higher layoffs and weaker hiring numbers.
Part of the increase in benefit applications in recent weeks occurred because of a three-week strike at a major parts supplier to General Motors. That's forced GM to close all or part of 28 plants, affecting more than 37,000 hourly workers.