Jobless claims jump in warning sign for labor market

WASHINGTON Thu May 16, 2013 8:36am EDT

A job seeker (C) talks to an exhibitor at the Colorado Hospital Association health care career fair in Denver April 9, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A job seeker (C) talks to an exhibitor at the Colorado Hospital Association health care career fair in Denver April 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits climbed last week at the fastest pace in six months, a worrisome sign for the economy which has been hit by government austerity.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits jumped by 32,000 to a seasonally adjusted 360,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was the biggest jump since November and confounded analysts' expectations for a more modest increase.

Claims for the prior week were revised to show 5,000 more applications received than previously reported.

A Labor Department analyst said no states had estimated their data, and that there were no signs furloughs for government employees played a significant role in last week's increase in claims.

The U.S. economy has shown signs that growth slowed late in the first quarter and in April as an austerity drive by the federal government weighed on consumers and businesses. Washington hiked taxes in January and initiated sweeping budget cuts in March.

Data on jobless claims has been a relative bright spot in the U.S. labor market, and analysts will be cautious over reading too deeply into one week of dour data, which showed claims at their highest since late March.

The four-week moving average for new claims, a better gauge of job market trends, remains near its lowest levels since the start of the 2007-09 recession. Last week, the moving average rose 1,250 to 339,250.

Many analysts have noted that a reticence by employers to lay off workers has made an outsized contribution to recent improvements in employment levels.

Last month, employers on net added 165,000 new jobs to their payrolls while the unemployment rate dropped to a four-year low at 7.5 percent.

The improvement in employment has contrasted sharply with other data, including retail sales and manufacturing, that have suggested a modest cooling in the economy at the end of the first quarter that persisted early in the April-June period.

The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid dropped 4,000 to about 3 million in the week ended May 4.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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Comments (3)
cyke1 wrote:
To bad fake unemployment number they feed us is just that a fake number. It don’t show people the real number of people that can’t find work and have givin’ up and lost their unemployment. Which when added in has it around 15%.

May 16, 2013 9:00am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Curly wrote:
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits jumped by 32,000 to a seasonally adjusted 360,000 . . . That means that the previous 328,000 the previous or was it 333,000 when the 5,000 up revision is added in?

Last month, employers on net added 165,000 new jobs to their payrolls while the unemployment rate dropped to a four-year low at 7.5 percent. Unless I am incorrect it takes more than this number of new net jobs added each month just to take care of the people who are joining the work force. I don’t see how the unemployment rate is going down UNLESS more people are dropping out of the work force than is entering it because there are no jobs to have.

May 16, 2013 9:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
totherepublic wrote:
“More than 4 million people in the U.S. are long-term unemployed, a number that has more than tripled in the last five years [the obama years].

Because the probability of reemployment drops significantly the longer someone is out of work, this situation suggests the possibility that the U.S. economy will suffer a permanent increase in structural unemployment.”

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/05/16/time-to-stop-funding-unemployment-benefits/

Has unemployment become just another obama entitlement? I think so.

May 16, 2013 10:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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