New claims for unemployment benefits jumped to the highest level in nine years last week because of job cuts resulting from the September 11 terrorist attacks hurting the travel and tourism industries. New claims for state jobless benefits shot up 71,000 to 528,000 after jumping 64,000 the prior week to the highest since late July 1992, the Labor Department said today.

The four-week moving average for jobless claims, which smoothes out fluctuations in the weekly data, rose to 453,500, the highest since December 28, 1991.

Since the attacks, more than 100,000 layoffs have been announced, consumer confidence has tumbled and billions of dollars worth of business has been lost. With uncertainties from the attacks and economists forecasting a recession, economists say they think businesses will be reluctant to hire new workers in coming months.

As of yesterday, only one carrier, Overland Park, KS-based Yellow Corp., has had job reductions since the previous jobless statistics were released. The LTL carrier reduced its salaried and non-union hourly workforce by 151 positions Monday. However, the rise in jobless claims affects all sectors of the industry, since unemployment benefits help shape indexes such as consumer confidence.

The unemployment rate shot up to 4.9% in August from 4.5%, the biggest one-month jump in more than six years as businesses eliminated 113,000 jobs. It is expected to rise further when the government releases its jobs report Friday, the first monthly data since the attacks.