Jobless Claims Fall To 4-Month Low

By DANIEL WAGNER

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week below 400,000 for the first time in four months, a sign that the job market is improving slowly after a recent slump.

Applications for unemployment aid dropped by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 395,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Applications had been above 400,000 for the previous17 weeks.

The four-week average, a less-volatile figure, fell to 405,000, its sixth straight decline. That suggests applications are decreasing over time.

Applications fell in February to 375,000, a level that reflects healthy job growth. They soared to an eight-month high of 478,000 in late April, and have declined slowly since then.

The economy added 117,000 net jobs in July, the government said last week. That was an improvement from the previous two months. But it's far below the average of 215,000 jobs per month that companies created from February through April.

Many employers pulled back on hiring after signs emerged that the economy had weakened from last year. High gas prices and scant wage gains left consumers with less money to spend on discretionary purchases, such as appliances, furniture and electronics. Supply chain disruptions caused by the Japan crisis also dampened U.S. factory production.

The economy expanded at an annual rate of just 0.8 percent in the first six months of the year, the slowest growth in the two years since the recession officially ended.

It's not likely to get much better in the second half of the year. The Federal Reserve on Tuesday said it expects growth will stay weak for two more years. The Fed also acknowledged that the economy's problems go beyond temporary factors, such as high gas prices.

As a result, the Fed said it would likely keep the short-term interest rate near zero at least through mid-2013.

Economists have slashed their growth estimates. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. expects just 2.5 percent growth in the July-September quarter, down from its previous estimate of 3.25 percent. JPMorgan Chase & Co. reduced its estimate to 1.5 percent, down 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 needs to grow by 5 percent for a whole year to bring down the rate by one percentage point.

Fears that the U.S. economy could be at risk of falling back into a recession, along with concerns that Europe is struggling to control its debt crisis, have roiled markets in recent weeks. The Dow Jones industrial average has fallen nearly 12 percent so far this month.

Many analysts worry that market turmoil could spook investors and consumers, causing them to take fewer risks and cut back on spending. That would hurt economic growth, making the markets' jitters a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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wcdaley6754

It's funny, it's Obama, so the news puts out that unemployment fell below 400,000 and that is good news, however if it were BUSH, headlines would read, "Unemployment still spiraling downward, another 395,000 are jobless"

August 11 2011 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
halcottgirl368

Maybe the claims have fallen to a 4 month low is because there are so many that are still unemployed but they are not collecting unemployment and can't sign up again. This is a bunch of BS, if one more person says the economy is turning around and getting better, I will scream.
Plus there is a woman on Good Morning America, I can't think of her name because every time she comes on, I change the channel. But she is ALWAYS saying the economy is great, don't panic, invest, yeah, right, why don't these people who always say this go to parts of the country that are REALLY hurting? Like RURAL America, where there is no public transportation, no jobs, and if your rural area is lucky enough to have ONE grocery store where ALL the prices are ridiculously high, and if you need any kind of clothing, school supplies, etc., you have to travel 5o plus miles ONE WAY to a mall or use catalogs. Yup, the economy is great and unemployment is at a 4 month low~~~~~~YEAH

August 11 2011 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bobscia

why wait, before he can do any more damage IMPEACH him now !!!!!!! his own people are quiting their white house jobs now that they see what he wants to do to this country,they don,t want to ruin their own country or known as a part of it......think about ,what do thy know or see that we don,t ......

August 11 2011 at 3:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ShiloandMe

Perhaps the reason the number of people seeking unemployment benefits has decreased isn't that they've gone back to work, but because their benefits have run out or they have accepted employment that is part-time or are otherwise "under employed". Let's not get too excited about those numbers because using the number of people who are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits may not be the most accurate way to keep track of how many people are actually unemployed.

August 11 2011 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael

The government has never counted the unemployed that have exhausted their Federal and State unemployment benefits. The numbers they put out do not represent the true number of unemployed individuals, and it never will. Just another in the long list of misrepresentations politicians use to
manipulate the public.

August 11 2011 at 2:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Frank

When I stand in back of a woman, like I did at Wal-Mart the other day, who weighs 300+, covered in tatoos, and has 5 kids with her, cart filled with nothing but junk, and she pays with food stamps, I just wonder if she's actively looking for work? Did I mention that on the way out to the car, I did discover she had money for cigarettes?

August 11 2011 at 2:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Frank's comment
mccoy

That was her welfare money. So I guess we bought her some cigarettes. What kills me is they have no self pride what so ever.

August 11 2011 at 3:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Frank

It was supposed to have been under 400,000 last week, but I see it was revised upwards. So this "good news" must be taken with a grain of salt.

August 11 2011 at 2:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
leonpb7

Federal Elected Officials

The best cure for our Country is for all of us to insist on term limits for ALL Federal Elected Officials. The term limit should be one four or five year term with a maximum of TWO TERMS. ALSO, no fringe benefits, insurance, or any other type of gratuity should continue after they leave office. The pay for ANY elected official should be equal to that of the average civilian with similar duties within the state he/she represents, plus 10%. Any elected official that reaches the age of 75 while holding office shall NOT be eligible for re-election. The only exception would be for the one who serves as President of the United States. That office would be given lifetime insurance for them and their spouse only, plus a monthly Social Security retirement, regardless of the number of terms served, or their age at completion of same, comparable to anyone else with that size of income. There would never be a raise given to any Elected Official since there wages would be tied into the general economic standards of living. In addition, ALL states, and Territories, within this union, should be encouraged to do the same with all State Elected Officials. One exception, would be that the Governor of any State or Territory would be treated the same as all other State Representatives, that is NOTHING in the way of fringe benefits would be paid to them after there term(s) of office.

Judges and Appointees

All Appointed Judges and other Appointees, shall be appointed for the duration of the elected official that appointed them. Supreme Court Judges, shall be appointed for LIFE or until age 75 at which time they will be required to step down. No one may be appointed to an office after the age of seventy-four and one half years of age. All appointees will follow the time line of the elected official that appoints them. If any elected official leaves office before the end of their term due to scandal, corruption, impeachment, or death, all of their appointments would have to step down, except that of Supreme Court Judges.

Len Budai

August 11 2011 at 2:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
RICNKELLY

Reality is that their are no jobs left out there to be fired or laid off from. I would like to see a census on how many job ads are out there that just repeat because the employer has an account with an ad agency.

August 11 2011 at 1:56 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to RICNKELLY's comment
cesarvis

I agree with you, companies fired and laid off all the employees they could to maintain skeleton crews now we wait and see if there are more to come because that might indicate businesses going out of business and getting rid of the people that are left.

August 11 2011 at 2:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
lylenpat

It would be interesting to note if any correlation exists to show when Jobless Claims go down does Welfare claims go up. If the Labor market is in such bad shape, and people run out of unemployment compensation, they have to go somewhere.

August 11 2011 at 1:48 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lylenpat's comment
cesarvis

they actually accept the job offers that they declined because they were getting unemployment and wanted more, they did not want to settle but when unemployment dries up they have to take what job they can find.

August 11 2011 at 2:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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