U.S. jobless claims hover near 4-year lows

WASHINGTON, March 1 Thu Mar 1, 2012 8:31am EST

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WASHINGTON, March 1 (Reuters) - New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits edged down last week, holding near four-year lows, according to a government report on Thursday that suggested the labor market was gaining momentum.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 351,000, the Labor Department said. The prior week's figure was revised up to 353,000 from the previously reported 351,000.

Claims have been hovering near four-year lows over the last few weeks. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims unchanged at 351,000 last week.

The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, dropped 5,500 to 354,000 - the lowest level since March 2008.

New applications for jobless benefits have declined through much of February, raising hopes for a third straight month of solid employment gains.

Nonfarm employment likely increased 200,000 last month, according to a Reuters survey, after rising 243,000 in January. The unemployment rate is seen holding at a three-year low of 8.3 percent in February.

The government will release February's employment report on March 9. While the labor market is gaining momentum, the level of employment is still 5.82 million from its prerecession level.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke described the labor market as "far from normal" and that further improvement would require stronger growth in final demand and production.

A Labor Department official said there was nothing unusual in the state-level data and that no states had been estimated.

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid fell 2,000 to 3.40 million in the week ended Feb. 18.

So-called continued claims covered the survey period for the household survey from which the unemployment rate is derived. Continued claims have declined 165,000 between the January and February survey periods.

The number of Americans on emergency unemployment benefits rose 1,347 to 2.90 million in the week ended Feb. 11, the latest week for which data is available.

A total of 7.50 million people were claiming unemployment benefits during that period under all programs, up 11,933 from the prior week.

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Comments (3)
PRO2847 wrote:
Recent institutionalized articles regarding unemployment applications misrepresent the severity of the employment crisis and only suggest less people are losing their jobs. We need new job production.

Finding the Unemployment Rate:
The Census Bureau does a survey of 60,000 households every month asking if household occupancies are employed, looking for work etc, and the Census Bureau doesn’t verify the information’s validity.

- 3.4 million yearly college graduates enter the workforce
(twice the number of college grads than new jobs in 2011)
- 150k new jobs added monthly on average to the workforce
- The US needs 125k new jobs a month solely for population growth
- The US needs 321k new jobs a month for 5 years to bring us pre-recession
Moreover, there are 23million total unemployed along with the 9million jobs lost in ’08-’09 recession.

Long-term unemployment insurance should be extended and US companies who moved their operations overseas should foot the bill. This is a unemployment crisis. Call a spade a spade.

Mar 01, 2012 11:31am EST  --  Report as abuse
PRO2847 wrote:
Recent institutionalized articles regarding unemployment applications misrepresent the severity of the employment crisis and only suggest less people are losing their jobs. We need new job production.

- 3.4 million college graduates every year
- 23 million total unemployed
- 9 million jobs lost during ’08-’09
- 150k jobs needed monthly solely for population growth
With an average of 200k new jobs a month will not cut it.

The labor market looks very bad.

Mar 02, 2012 10:54am EST  --  Report as abuse
PRO2847 wrote:
These institutionalized articles regarding unemployment applications misrepresent the severity of the employment crisis and only suggest less people are losing their jobs. We need new job production.

Mar 02, 2012 10:15pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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