Jobless claims hint at improving labor market

WASHINGTON Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:36am EST

A job seeker looks at his mobile phone as he waits to speak with recruiters during a job fair put on by online recruiting company The Ladders at Grand Central Station in New York January 10, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

A job seeker looks at his mobile phone as he waits to speak with recruiters during a job fair put on by online recruiting company The Ladders at Grand Central Station in New York January 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, suggesting some traction in the labor market recovery.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 344,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week's claims figure was revised to show 4,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 360,000.

Claims have seen large swings in recent months because of difficulties smoothing the data for seasonal fluctuations, making it hard to get a clear pulse of the labor market's health.

But economists say not all the improvement in claims can be attributed to seasonal factors, suggesting some pick-up in the labor market recovery.

Last week's decline left claims at the lower end of the their range for this year. The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, fell 6,750 to 355,000.

A Labor Department analyst said no states were estimated.

Job gains have averaged 177,000 per month over the past six months. At least 250,000 jobs per month over a sustained period are needed to significantly reduce the ranks of unemployed, economists say.

The unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage point to 7.9 percent in January. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday the jobless rate was unlikely to reach more normal levels for several years.

High unemployment prompted the U.S. central bank last year to launch an open-ended bond buying program that it said it would keep up until it saw a substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market.

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid fell 91,000 to 3.07 million in the week ended February 16, the lowest level since June 2008. The household survey from which the unemployment rate is derived was also conducted during the week ended Feb 16.

(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Neil Stempleman)

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Comments (2)
chapapet wrote:
malnutrition…is this the appropriate word?

there is not enough to go around and the article “maybe” supports this but with wages stat, taxes increasing, cuts on the horizon will you find me the silver lining that this headline suggests…

yes I want the silver lining for my children and my grandchildren but the tarnish is so prevalent that for these moments I lack the foresight to be optimistic…

we have backed ourselves along with our corporations into this corner with the demand for less quality and cheaper costs that Americans have become very comfortable with, so the quality of thought versus the quality of life lack any cohesion…

enough of this rambling just bring us all the facts that will contribute to more jobs for Americans…

Thank you.

Feb 28, 2013 9:30am EST  --  Report as abuse
Bubba311 wrote:
The unemployment rate rose in January. Now this vague and inconclusive article’s headline claims a ” — hint at improving labor market”. A reading of the entire story makes the headline seem even less relevant to reality. This is a propaganda piece, nothing more.

Feb 28, 2013 10:16am EST  --  Report as abuse
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