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In the week ended Feb. 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 373,000, an increase of 19,000, or 5.4%, from the previous week's revised figure of 354,000. The four-week moving average was 360,500, an increase of 1,250 from the previous week's revised average of 361,750.
Separately today, the U.S. Department of Commerce said real gross domestic product increased at annual rate of only 0.6% in the fourth quarter of 2007, the same rate as an earlier estimate. The Wall Street Journal reported that real GDP was expected to rise to 0.8%. Real GDP grew 4.9% in the third quarter, according to the Department of Commerce.
In a report before the House Committee on Financial Service on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the economic situation has become less favorable since last summer. Job creation has slowed and the unemployment rate, at 4.9% in January, has moved up, Bernanke said.