Unemployment Benefit Applications Jump To 399,000

jobless unemployment numbers Labor DepartmentBy Christopher S. Rugaber

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Applications for weekly unemployment benefits spiked last week, largely because companies let go of thousands of workers after the holiday season.

Weekly applications rose by 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 399,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the highest level in six weeks.

Economists said such a jump is typical in early January and downplayed the increase. It followed three months of steady declines that brought applications to their lowest level in more than three years. And weekly unemployment claims have been below 400,000 in nine of the past 10 weeks.

That's a "clear indication that the pace of layoffs has slowed," said Steven Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics.

Applications typically soar in the first two weeks of the year. That's because many companies lay off temporary workers who were brought on to help during the holidays. The department tries to adjust for those patterns. But the task is difficult because the data can be volatile.

"We would not read too much into the rebound in initial jobless claims," Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, in a note to clients. "There (are) always problems in seasonally adjusting the weekly data around the turn of the year. As it stands at the moment, the trend in claims remains downwards."

The four-week average, which attempts to smooth such fluctuations, also rose, to 381,750. It had fallen in the previous week to a three-and-a-half-year low.

When applications drop below 375,000 - consistently - that generally signals hiring is strong enough to reduce the unemployment rate. Prior to last week's spike, applications had been below 375,000 for three of the past four weeks.

The unemployment rate fell in December to 8.5 percent, a three-year low. Employers added 200,000 net jobs, double November's 100,000 gain.

More people are receiving benefits. The total unemployment benefit rolls increased to 7.3 million in the week ending Dec. 24, the latest data available. That is 111,000 higher than the previous week.

The economy gained 1.6 million jobs last year, up from 940,000 in 2010. Economists forecast roughly 1.9 million more jobs will be added this year, according to a survey by The Associated Press.

Still, the job market has a long way to go before it recovers from the damage inflicted by the Great Recession, which wiped out 8.7 million jobs. There are still more than 13 million unemployed people in the United States. And millions more who have given up looking and are no longer counted among those out of work.

The pickup in hiring reflects greater economic growth. The economy will likely expand by more than 3 percent at an annual rate in the final three months of last year, economists expect. Rising consumer spending will likely power much of the gain. That would be a sharp improvement over the 1.8 percent growth in the July-September quarter.

Even so, economists worry that growth could slow in the first half of 2012. Europe is almost certain to fall into recession because of its financial troubles.

And wages didn't keep pace with inflation last year. So without more jobs and higher pay, consumers may have to cut back on spending. That could drag on growth next year. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

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Ok American citizens I need your help. Let's put pressure on Washington DC to put our people back to work with good paying jobs. Please give the following list of elected officials a phone call and tell them to "DRILL BABY DRILL" and release all the drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico We don't need to go to war with Iran, just stop buying their oil. Iran will be begging for help.

Senator John Kerry 1-202-224-2742
Senator Harry Reid 1-202-224-3542
Senator Barbara Boxer 1-202-224-3553
Senator Al Franken 1-202-224-5641
Senator Kay Hagan 1-202-224-6342
Senator Frank Lautenberg 1-202-224-3224
Senator Carl Levin 1-202-224-6221
Senator Claire McCaskill 1-202-224-6154
Senator Robert Menendez 1-202-224-4744
Senator Jeff Merkley 1-202-224-3753
Senator Patty Murray 1-202-224-2621
Senator Ben Nelson 1-202-224-6551
Senator Mark Pryor 1-202-224-2353
Senator Jack Reid 1-202-224-4642
Senator John Rockefeller 1-202-224-6472
Senator Chuck Schumer 1-202-224-6542

Imagine a Senator getting 1,000 phone calls in one day.....Impressive!

January 12 2012 at 10:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Remember that the figures don't lie, but liers figure....
As the technogolgy has helped speed the process of daily chores, it comes with a price. Less people are required to do more work. When there is a gadget that will show up to work every day, not want 2 breaks along with a longer lunch hour and doesn't ask for a raise every 90 days, businesses turn to technology. Sure the gadgets break down, but it's cheaper tfor a company to buy a new gadget than pay the taxes and benefits that humans demand.
On the other hand, many of the people entering into the working world (or trying to) don't have the skills required in todays businesses. (I'm using the term people as to not discrimaye due to age, race or color). The people today are so attached to their mobile devices that many put a text comment in place of getting their duties done. Doe example, I trained a young person how to use a log splitter and left them to their task. Checking on them after two hours, he had about 1/8 of the wood split that I was expecting. When I asked why there wasn't wasn't more split, he commented that the wood splitter was operating pretty slow. I checked the machine, it worked fine. I gave him a 20 minute break and while he was getting a refreshment and doing his personal duties, I split wood. When he returned, I showed him what I had accomplished. Asked if he understood and he acknowledged that he did. I again left him to the task at hand and left the area.
I actually went around a corner and walked to view his activity from afar. I immediately saw the problem, he would be texting one (or more) of his buddies, activate the splitter, stop, text again, split the rest of that piece then text again. Needless to say I had his final paycheck ready for him at the end of the work day. (I even paid him for the time I gave him for his breaks!)
This is only one example (I have a few more with other people) of why the unemployment rate has remained so high. People need to know when to put their phones away and get their nose to the grindstone.
I wonder how many Chinese workers are texting while they are on the clock??
It's tough enough for a little business to survive, is it too much to ask for 8 hours of work for 8 hours of pay?
I checked with a lawyer to ask if I could require an employee to leave their phone in their vehicle and was advised that I could be opening myself (and company) to legal actions.... Guess that's why I am doing the wood splitting and most of the chores here myself. And the OWS people say I'm rich because I own a business. I don't see them working 14 to 18 hours a day for little to no pay. (My salary is 10K a year and I'm NOT on any government subsidies) I may just have to give myself a raise.... I'll be working on the roof later this week... Happy Camping!!

January 12 2012 at 8:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Hiring always goes up from mid November thru December and crashes in January...Same ****, different year.

January 12 2012 at 8:31 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

You think its bad now wait until the job market is flooded with all of the returning veterans from Iraq war and include the 100,000 Army and Marines who will be in the labor market looking for jobs after this massive defense cut. Watch what happens when the dust really settles. This administration SUCKS!

January 12 2012 at 8:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rmtigler's comment

i think some of those vets pay be pissed, video at 23:00

January 12 2012 at 10:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I feel sorry for those who have lost their employment through no fault of their own. I wish you lots of luck
making ends meet. Eat plenty of iron rich beans, lentils, take your vitamins to keep healthy, think positive thougths to keep your spouse and family together, find a group of good friends and learn laughter.

You'll survive. Don't hate on those who are doing better than you, when one door closes another can open. Good Luck

January 12 2012 at 8:23 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Michael Ault

Stories like this should not even be making headlines. Of course the media in November and December were crediting the Stim-u-less package for seasonal hires. Prognosticating the economy is similar to the weather. Most of the time the "experts" are wrong. We'll see

January 12 2012 at 8:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is a joke, I heard Obama say in a speech yesterday "We are the most productive country" ahemmm this is really bad I know he is trying a positive spin but in reality we are faced with:

High Unemployment
High Fuel Costs
High Food Costs
High Healthcare
High Tuition
High Teen Pregnancy
High Drop Out Rates
High Deficit

When do the Wizards of Washington live in our world? They don't and as far as elections Republican or Democrat candidates who are currently employed working as a civil servant you Should Not Be Allowed To Campaign until you can use Your Vacation Time accrued for the days you Campaign. The Elections should be a Race from August 1st until the election No Primaries or Caucuses puth them all on the ballot and let the voters sort them out.

January 12 2012 at 8:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

like I said, just more spin from the doctors in Washington, they can make the numbers look as good as they want. Question your Government!!!!!!!!!
A.B.O. 2012

January 12 2012 at 8:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well no duh. What a bunch of professors we have in charge. Hmmmmm...every year as the holidays approach, buisnesses across the country hire accordingly for the busiest time of the year. Then once it is done they let them go ( except for perhaps a few that stood out as exceptional workers ). This has been going on now for how long?....Maybe lets say, ummm, I don't know...DECADES. We have some serious idiots out there trying to gloss things over.

January 12 2012 at 7:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to HAT1701D's comment
Bob Cuminale

Have you ever noticed that no matter what is reported the economists were surprised? What kind of pronosticating are there people doing every week.

January 12 2012 at 9:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bob Cuminale's comment
Bob Cuminale


January 12 2012 at 9:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

I bet the claims go magically down near the election. of course they will not include 5 million or so people when they do it....GOVERNMENT CAN NOT CREATE JOBS for private companies. They only create government fobswhich HURT EVERYONE...nothing but crack junkies this government

January 12 2012 at 7:08 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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