Tags: Jobless | Claims | labor | employment

Jobless Claims Fall for Fourth Week, Hit Two-Month Low

Thursday, 13 Dec 2012 08:38 AM

 

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply for a fourth straight week, a sign that the job market may be improving.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 29,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 343,000, the lowest in two months. It is the second-lowest total this year.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the drop indicates that companies are cutting fewer jobs. But employers also need to step up hiring to rapidly push down the unemployment rate.

The drop suggests that companies aren't laying off workers in advance of the "fiscal cliff," the package of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect early next year.

"Worries about the fiscal cliff are not translating into any significant weakening in the labor market yet," said Jim O'Sullivan, an economist at High Frequency Economics. "Today's reading suggests net improvement, although it is just one week."

Applications spiked five weeks ago because of Superstorm Sandy. The storm's impact has now faded. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell 27,000 to 381,500.

Before the storm, applications had fluctuated between 360,000 and 390,000 this year.

The storm had little effect on overall hiring in November. Employers added 146,000 jobs last month, the government said last week. That's about the same as the average monthly gain of 150,000 in the past year.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent — a four-year low — from 7.9 percent in October. But the decline occurred mostly because more people without jobs gave up looking for work. The government counts people without jobs as unemployed only if they're actively seeking one.

The department also said Tuesday that employers posted the most open jobs in four months in October. That suggests that hiring could pick up a bit in the coming months.

But some companies may postpone hiring this month because of concerns over the fiscal cliff. If all the changes in the cliff take effect for a full year, economists forecast it would push the economy into recession.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are negotiating a potential deficit-reduction deal that would avert the cliff. The goal is to complete an agreement by the end of the year, though talks could continue into January.

Most economists say that if the tax increases and spending cuts are in effect only temporarily while a budget agreement is in sight, the damage to the economy would be minor.

The total number of people receiving benefits rose to 5.6 million in the week that ended Nov. 24, the latest period for which data are available. That's nearly 700,000 more than in the previous week. The figure isn't seasonally adjusted, so it can be volatile from week to week.

© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Worker Pay in US Rose at a Slower Pace in Fourth Quarter

Friday, 30 Jan 2015 10:30 AM

Wages and salaries in the U.S. rose at a slower pace in the fourth quarter, indicating workers have limited success barg . . .

Consumers Sentiment Brightened in January to 11-Year High

Friday, 30 Jan 2015 10:19 AM

American consumer confidence reached an 11-year high in January as a strengthening labor market and plunging gas prices  . . .

TD Ameritrade Poll: Only 50% of Financial Advisers Optimistic on Economy

Thursday, 29 Jan 2015 12:52 PM

The jump in economic growth to a juicy average of 4.8 percent annualized in the second and third quarters apparently was . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved