Fewer Seek Unemployment Aid, Matching 4-Year Low

unemployment aid downBy Christopher S. Rugaber


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer people sought unemployment benefits last week, adding to signs that the job market is strengthening.

Applications for unemployment aid dropped 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 351,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That matches a four-year low reached last month. The four-week average, which smooths fluctuations, was unchanged at 355,750.

Applications have leveled off in the past few weeks after falling for six months. The average has declined 14 percent since October.

When applications drop consistently below 375,000, it usually signals that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

The steady decline in applications has coincided with the best three months of hiring in two years. From December through February, employers added an average of 245,000 jobs a month. The unemployment rate has declined to 8.3 percent, the lowest in three years.

The job growth is being driven by a stronger economy, which grew at an annual rate of 3 percent in the final three months of last year.

Other data confirm that the recovery is gaining momentum. Consumers are more confident and have stepped up spending. Auto sales are rising. And the stock market keeps climbing: The Dow Jones industrial average this week hit its highest point since the last day of 2007.

The Federal Reserve is slightly more upbeat about the recovery, largely because of the surge in hiring. After a meeting Tuesday, the Fed said unemployment should continue to decline gradually as the economy expands. And it noted that consumer spending and business investment have picked up.

The central bank took no further steps to aid the recovery and repeated its plan to keep short-term interest rates near zero through 2014.

One concern is that rising gas prices will force consumers to cut back on discretionary spending. That could weigh on economic growth and slow hiring. The Fed said it expects oil and gas prices to temporarily boost inflation but predicted longer-term inflation should remain stable.

Even with the improvement, the job market has a long way to go to fully recover from the Great Recession. More than 12.8 million people remain unemployed. And the economy still has 5 million fewer jobs than before the downturn.

But the more robust job market has caused many so-called "discouraged workers" to start looking again. The work force surged by 476,000 in February and by nearly 1 million over the past two months.



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Chris & Craig

I see the govt is palying with the numbers again. How about they get the numbers on the people whose unemployment ahs run out. Unemployment has not gone down just a lot of people ahve run out. Get the facts and you'll see a very big difference

March 19 2012 at 7:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
learningtoflirt

I'd go apply for unemployment benefits, but I can't. I quit my job last week because I was very tired of three years at a VERY hostile workplace. The boss (owner) screamed at people, threw things, cursed at you and generally rode you. Eleven hours a day with a half hour lunch, and no breaks. No talking to coworkers. If you had a radio, he would smash it on the ground. (This is at a heavy truck repair facility) Many people in this town know him or have heard what he is like to work for. I often hear...."How could you have stayed so long?"

So.....needless to say, I cannot collect because I quit. The good news is that I started getting offers the day I quit. Now I just have to decide where I want to work.

March 19 2012 at 4:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to learningtoflirt's comment
braunsys

Amen to that !
Unless one has been subjected to the type of bullying workplace you've expressed, one can not fully understand or appreciate how devastating and traumatic the experience really is.
I wonder what the "actual" unemployed not collecting compensation statistics, are?
Articles like this one, in my opinion, are misleading.

March 19 2012 at 5:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
learningtoflirt

There is no way to know how many are actually looking for a job!!

March 19 2012 at 4:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rowiep

What a crock of garbage. The only reason it is a four year low is because the benefits ran out. So now people are no longer people to the government. People just vanished into mid air. Nothing has changed with the job situation. The really think we are this stupid.

March 19 2012 at 4:34 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
dlsloper13

I fell off unemployment 1 year ago-still looking,and can't get through to social services to even see if I qualify for food stamps-don't qualify for health care cause I'm not older,nor did have kids
(cause we all know single people NEVER get sick,right?).....4 year unemployed this week and counting. 100's of applications,about 8 interviews.They lie...I tell you,they lie.

March 19 2012 at 2:21 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
jharris746

they dont count people who run out of benefits then drop 1.2 million people from the available job pool in one shot just so the rates look like they are dropping but media keeps blaring that we are adding jobs? will they stop at nothing to do whatever it takes to ignore the facts?

March 19 2012 at 2:14 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
llwlknsn

You do realize that fewer people can claim unemployment because of the way it is set up. Underemployment and temporary jobs, screw up the ability to apply. Then there is the issue with not being able to qualify in the first place. This is a false statistic and is being manipulated.

March 19 2012 at 12:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gjb1236

Are ninety- niners included in the ststistics affecting the lack of people signing up durning a given period?

Ge.

March 18 2012 at 11:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kris

Bogus government numbers, not counting people that have quit looking! Just like the bugus inflation numbers, not counting energy and food! What a bunch of liars and crooks we have running this country.

March 18 2012 at 10:48 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Walt

MY WIFE'S JOB WAS ELIMAED AFTER 23 YEARS, SHE GOT A LITTLE PACKAGE, HOWEVER 5 WEEKS LATER SHE HAS TWO JOBS OFFERED TO HER...SHE WENT OUT AND RECRUTED, THEY ARE THERE FOR THE SMARTER, MAYBE NOT THE JOB YOU WANT RIGHT NOW, BUT USE YOUR COMPUTER AND KNOCK ON DOORS......GOOD LUCK.

March 18 2012 at 10:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Walt's comment

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