Jobless claims fall, give clearer sign of health

WASHINGTON Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:37am EDT

Job seekers stand in line to meet with prospective employers at a career fair in New York City, October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Job seekers stand in line to meet with prospective employers at a career fair in New York City, October 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, giving a clearer sign that the labor market is healing after wild fluctuations in claims data at the beginning of the month.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 369,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

The prior week's figure was revised slightly higher to show 4,000 more applications than previously reported.

A Labor Department analyst said all states submitted data for the report and that there was nothing unusual in the raw data. The analyst said the data showed no signs of the factors that had appeared to generate sharp swings in the claims reading over the prior two weeks.

The four-week moving average for jobless claims, which smoothes out such volatility, rose 1,500 to a 368,000. Economists generally think a reading below 400,000 points to an increase in employment, with hiring likely to outpace layoffs.

The U.S. economy remains hobbled by a persistently high jobless rate. Incomes have stagnated and many families are awash in debts taken on during a housing bubble in the last decade.

Recently, however, the economy has shown a few positive signals, with the unemployment rate falling to 7.8 percent and retail sales picking up. Consumer spirits have also brightened.

Those signs of improvement appear to have done little to bolster President Barack Obama's bid for a second term, and there is only one more reading on U.S. unemployment before voters go to the polls on November 6.

Earlier this month, claims swung sharply lower and then higher, which a Labor Department analyst said was likely due to a change in the seasonal pattern that usually manifests at the beginning of the quarter. That distortion in the seasonal data appears to a have passed, the analyst said on Thursday.

Continuing claims for jobless benefits fell 2,000 in the week ended October 13 to a seasonally adjusted 3.254 million, the Labor Department said.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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Comments (4)
Nearly every single week, the initially reported claims are stated, and the next week they are adjusted up by 4k. It has been extremely consistent. One would think the developers of the spin…er… metrics.. would be able to identify the source of missing information and correct it, to at least get closer to reality with the reported. That’s what any number cruncher would do if he was worth his weight. So either they aren’t worth their weight, or they are deliberately not fixing it to ensure the spin each week shows just a little better than reality. 23000 less filings this week. That number is derived from an upwardly revised last week number and and unchanged number this week. It’s still in the right direction, but 23k sounds so much better than the more likely 19k that will be shown next week, don’t you think?

Oct 25, 2012 9:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
kevivoe wrote:
To be revised upwards next week about last weeks expectation when nobody is looking.

Oct 25, 2012 9:15am EDT  --  Report as abuse
totherepublic wrote:
369,000 is not good news and it is a lie anyway. Next week, the week before the election, ALL the liberal mainstream media will post the “best” job numbers in 4 years. Their “news” is quite predictable. I wish there was some way I could make a bet on that being a lie, I would retire.

Oct 25, 2012 9:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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