The first US unemployment figures since Hurricane Katrina have seen a surge in the number of people claiming jobless benefits for the first time. The US Labour Department says 71,000 people signed up for benefits last week, with 68,000 of those claims directly attributable to the effect of Katrina. That is the biggest jump in nearly 10 years.
That figure exceeded the claims filed in the weeks following the terror attacks on September 11th 2001. Analysts predicted that it would be revised even higher once states catch up with processing claims. Meanwhile the latest tally of US consumer prices showed a 0.5% increase last month, due to energy costs. But, the core inflation index – that is prices for products other than food and energy – rose only 0.1%. And in first six months of this year, the core rate increased at a 2% seasonally adjusted rate, less than the 2.2% for the same period last year.