Verizon strike boosts unemployment aid requests

WASHINGTON (AP) ? The number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose last week. But it was pushed up by thousands of Verizon workers who were on strike.

The Labor Department says weekly applications rose 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 417,000, the highest level in five weeks.

Excluding the striking workers, the report suggests layoffs aren’t increasing. That should ease fears that the economy is on the verge of a recession. But employers aren’t creating enough jobs to rapidly lower the unemployment rate.

About 45,000 Verizon workers went on strike Aug. 7. Unions representing the workers ended the strike earlier this week.

Typically, workers who walk off the job aren’t eligible for benefits. But states have specific rules governing labor disputes.