Unemployment Aid Applications Tick Down To 400K

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people seeking unemployment benefits dipped last week, a sign the job market may be improving slowly.

The Labor Department says that applications for unemployment benefits edged down 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 400,000. That's the lowest level in four months. The previous week's figure was revised upward from 398,000 to 401,000.

The four-week average, a less volatile figure, dropped for the fifth straight week to 407,750. That suggests there is a downward trend in applications.

Applications have been at or above 400,000 for 17 weeks. They fell in February to 375,000, a level that signals healthy job growth. They stayed below 400,000 for two months, but applications then surged to an eight-month high of 478,000 in April and have declined slowly since then.

The report comes a day before the government will release the July employment figures. Economists forecast that Friday's report will show that employers added a net total of 90,000 jobs. The unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 9.2 percent.

That would be an improvement from June, when the economy added just 18,000 - the fewest in nine months. But at least three times that many new jobs would be needed to substantially reduce the unemployment rate.

Employers are pulling back as the economy struggles.

The economy grew at an annual rate of only 1.3 percent in the April-June period after barely expanded in the first three months of this year. Growth was less than 1 percent in the first half of the year, the weakest stretch since the recession ended.

Manufacturers expanded at their slowest pace in two years in July, a private trade group said Monday. The Institute for Supply Management also said that expansion among retailers, restaurants, financial services and service industries slowed to a 17-month low in July.

The two reports showed that there is little sign the economy is growing any faster in the July-September quarter than in the first half of this year.

A more cautious consumer is a key reason for the sluggish period. Americans cut their spending for the first time in 20 months in June, the government said Tuesday. For the entire April-June period, consumer spending rose only 0.1 percent, the worst showing since the recession ended.

Much of the slowdown stems from a spike in gas prices since last year. That has limited what consumers can spend on discretionary goods, such as furniture, electronics, and appliances. Spending on those categories has fallen for three straight months.

Manufacturing output has also been hit by supply disruptions that resulted from Japan's March 11 earthquake. Those disruptions caused auto companies in the U.S. to reduce production.

Economists had predicted the economy would turn around in the second half of the year once those temporary factors began to fade.

But many are now more pessimistic about the second half of this year. Goldman Sachs recently cut its estimate for growth in the July-September period to 2.5 percent from 3.25 percent. JPMorgan, meanwhile, has reduced its estimate to 1.5 percent, from as high as 3 percent several weeks ago.

Growth of about 2.5 percent is barely enough to reduce the unemployment rate. The economy would need to grow 5 percent for a whole year to bring down the rate by one percentage point.

Next: Overcoming the Unemployed 'Stigma'



Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now




Stories from FINS Finance

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

126 Comments

Filter by:
wagonerljw

Wow the administration spent $239B in one-day today. Another $72B next week.

Remember this......

If we don't pass the debt limit increase we are going to go into a depression or double-dip. We have never left the recession--on toward a depression.

If we don't pass this healthcare, it will cost more. Report came out that Obamacare is going to cost more.

If we don't pass the stimulus we are going to go above 8.0 unemployment. 9.2% unemployment, 17 weeks above 400,000/week lost. let's see that sounds like 1.2 million in the past month if I can add--we are jumping for joy over the possibility of 90K added this month wow. That will probably get revised downward.

If we don't bail out the car companies it will ruin the economy. Hmm that happened too.

Shall I continue.

August 04 2011 at 8:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bobrms1

Oh! Wow! Down 1000 of exxpected. Does it occur to these Geniuses that just mabey there are almost no one left to lay off at least in the higher numbers gone by. You ungratefull unbelievers.
Don't you realize happy times are here again, witness the grand Birthday party affordable by only millionaires. At least he's keeping his word, they should pay more but I thought that was for the benifit of all.
Definition of Stupidity: elect someone to run the only Super Power and the Largest economy in the World who verifiably is not qualified to apply for a license to run or manage any business incuding a Hot Dog Stand.
No one I have asked would put anyone in charge of their business who has no experience in that disipline.
What the heck, lets reelect him. Lets go down the tubes like Russia so we can enjoy being poor and doing without like they did before they realized Mother Russias Cubboard was bare.
Get real! No one works hard for the good of all. We all work hard for the good of self when we must.

August 04 2011 at 7:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tmbe1954

what a crock!!!!!!!!! how many benefits have ran out, if so many people are working now, then I quess that revenue is rolling in>the government knows how many people are actually out of work, just talk to the IRS. they can tell us the real picture, not what the White House wants us to think.

August 04 2011 at 6:55 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Go Rockets

Market tanks 500 points . Does the President and his National Socialist Party have a new plan ? Oops can't have a new plan if you have never had an old plan. Just send out the army of 30 something spokesholes to gin up the propoganda machine.

August 04 2011 at 6:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
spmazanek

Market crashes 500 points and HUF runs this story?
I don't know about you, but I'm willing to give the BHO Administration 4 more years because the story says unemployment benefits dipped last week proving they just need more time to sort it out. Please be patient and give the "Hope and Change" programs a chance to work. Or may be it is working, I'm not sure anymore. Just lost about 5% of my portfolio today, but I feel confident that Barrack has my back and is looking out for me. Wait till those "Green Jobs" he campaigned about develope and we'll be dancing in the streets.
Bush Lied. Cheney is also part of the big conspiracy but I just forgot which one.
Please give me another swig of that Kool-Aid. .

August 04 2011 at 6:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
jimepliz

THE NUIMBERS WILL BE OUT TOMORROW AND THE STOCK MARKET WILL TANK AGAIN. OBAMA IS DESTROYING AMERICA BECAUSE HE IS A MUSLIM AT HEART !

August 04 2011 at 6:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
raddison4x

Let's see what the jobs report for the month of July is tomorrow. I'm betting 9.2% unemployment.
Who cares, as long as Obama and his friends are enjoying his birthday party! That's all that matters! Isn't that what the liberals will say?

August 04 2011 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hotspringspark

yeah, and the stock market went into a sell-off frenzy...heard anything about it? peoples life savings going up in smoke and nary a word from HP.

August 04 2011 at 5:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Tammy

Someone forgot to tell the bears today at the stock market :(

August 04 2011 at 5:16 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
oldhorsema

The disaster in the markets thanks to the Republicans who turned a routine debt increase into a political circus along with their trillions in tax cuts and deficit reductions which have effectively wrecked the financial markets.

August 04 2011 at 5:14 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to oldhorsema's comment
coach48094

Unfortunately, that is their plan; Make this economy as bad as they can; Mitch Muleface even admitted it, which is hard to believe but we knew it anyway. They go home on vacation and do not pass legislation which holds another 74K people out of work. When will we wake up?

August 04 2011 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rich McCormack

There were no tax cuts in the debt limit agreement. Try again...

August 04 2011 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Top Companies Hiring

Week of Sep 14 - Sep 21
View All

Picks From the Web