Weekly Unemployment Claims Drop To 352,000, Fewest Since 2008

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weekly unemployment claims dropBy Christopher S. Rugaber

WASHINGTON -- The number of people seeking unemployment benefits plummeted last week to 352,000, the fewest since April 2008. The decline added to evidence that the job market is strengthening.

Weekly applications fell 50,000, the biggest drop in the seasonally adjusted figure in more than six years, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, which smooths out fluctuations, dropped to 379,000. That's the second-lowest such figure in more than three years.

A department spokesman cautioned that volatility at this time of year is common. Applications had jumped two weeks ago, largely because companies laid off thousands of temporary workers hired for the holidays.

When weekly applications fall consistently below 375,000, it usually signals that hiring is strong enough to push down the unemployment rate.

Hiring improved in the second half of 2011. In December, employers added 200,000 jobs. That marked the sixth straight month in which the economy added at least 100,000 jobs. And the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent, a three-year low.

For all of 2011, the economy added 1.6 million jobs. That was up sharply from 940,000 in 2010. Economists say they expect roughly 1.9 million more jobs to be added this year, according to a survey by The Associated Press.

Still, the job market has a long way to go before it fully recovers from the damage of the Great Recession, which wiped out 8.7 million jobs. More than 13 million people remain unemployed. Millions more have given up looking for work and so are no longer counted as unemployed.

The manufacturing sector remains a bright spot. Factory output jumped 0.9 percent in December, the Federal Reserve said this week. That was the sharpest monthly gain in a year. Manufacturing gained 225,000 jobs last year, the most since 1997.

The pickup in hiring reflects stronger economic growth. The economy likely grew at an annual rate of about 3 percent in the final three months of last year, economists estimate.

That would be a sharp improvement over the 1.8 percent annual growth rate in the July-September quarter. Rising consumer spending is thought to be fueling much of the gain in the current 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.

Wages failed to keep pace with inflation last year. Without more jobs and higher pay, consumers might have to cut back on spending. That would weigh down growth next year. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.

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Dave

So, what if your not making $35 an hour anymore. With this swell new minimum wage job, you even get a uniform! "Should we super-size dem fries?"

January 20 2012 at 1:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mitchell

America sold out and took a great big dump on the heads of the working class."

January 19 2012 at 4:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Steve

It is Re-election time and of course, Obama's book chefs are going to be cooking the books. I don't doubt that number will be reduced as the Vacationer in Chief, is helped stumbling through the election by the very media that elected him the first crime, I mean the first time. He has a good start, he is being cheered right now for his brilliant rejection of Keystone project, which of course was done because the economy is up and we dont need 10's of thousands of jobs. The fraud is a total failure.

January 19 2012 at 4:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wlnorman

Must keep in perspective! Clinton years took unemployment from 7.8% down to aboutb 4%, but it took 8 years and 4% is unusually low. Normal id about 5-6%. So we are NEVER GOING TO HAVE ALL THE 13M now unemployed working. Best we can realistically expect is that unemployment will reduce to about 7-8 M or 5%. That means need need creation of 3.6% or about 5.5 M jobs. 1.9 M expected next year would make it 7,5% and take until mid 2014 to be back at 5%. That is five years from its peak at 10.1% in 2009. If check charts under Reagan and others' years - slope of unemployment gains and number years to recover are about exactly same. Many sites; one is at http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/unemployment-rate

January 19 2012 at 3:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob

One can only Hope & PRAY that the millions of unemployed that are still out there, But have just dropped off the radar and are NO LONGER Counted will Resurface come Election Time and remember these Obamination scam numbers ! Also, Remember that "Not Only Do They Indeed Exist" but more Importantly there VOTE Against this Bull Sh*t President & his Country Recking Pal's will go along way to Putting All of those A_Holes On the "NEW" Unemployment Records.

January 19 2012 at 3:05 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
MARLEYSGHOST

AND PS ITS NOT A RESESSION ITS A FRICKIN DEPRESSION LETS START USING THE RIGHT WORD FOR IT ,,DEPRESSION NOT RESESSION GOT IT ?

January 19 2012 at 2:44 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
MARLEYSGHOST

only reason they are so low is that the unemployed are runnining out of benifits not because they are getting jobs they just can no longer file so the stats are BS take a look around the economey still sucks !!! so don't let the press blow smoke up your butt with these false tales of " hey its getting better all the time " because its not !!!! how many of your friends and family are still not employed ? understand what im saying now ? we need a change in DC from top to bottom get out and vote

January 19 2012 at 2:40 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
JibJab

Absolute ludicrous and stupid manipulating the fake numbers again. A ton of B.S. hitting the fan, duck.

January 19 2012 at 2:33 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
bottreln

This is just a joke! My other half has been out of work for over 2 1/2 years - he is now off the unemployment records. That does not mean he has gotten a job - it only means we are now screwed like so many others and no one is tracking him anymore!
BULL!

January 19 2012 at 2:25 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
napomoishee

I'm so sick of this number, just like everybody else, i liive in Yuma, Az were the unemployment rate is a 29% take that washington a holes. people is tired of looking for jobs that are not there. even the company that i thought it will hired me coz i have 18 years experince with their product, sent me an email saying they will go with someone more close to their need, are you kiding me?

January 19 2012 at 2:16 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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