438,000 people lose their jobs because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to statistics

The number of people who have lost their jobs because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita jumped to 438,000 last week as the economic shockwaves from the nation's costliest natural disaster continued to be felt six weeks after Katrina careened across the Gulf Coast.

The Labor Department reported that an additional 75,000 hurricane-related claims were filed last week out of a nationwide total of 389,000 new claims for unemployment benefits.

The rise of 75,000 in hurricane-related unemployment benefit claims was up slightly from 74,000 such claims two weeks ago, the first week that claims from Rita showed up. The highest week for claims attributed to the hurricanes was the week ending Sept. 17, when claims from Katrina totaled 108,000.

The government reported last Friday that the nation's jobless rate was pushed to 5.1 percent in September from a four-year low of 4.9 percent in August. Business payrolls fell for the first time in two years, a decline that was also attributed to the hurricanes. A.M.

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