U.S. Unemployment Aid Applications Hit 4-Year Low

unemployment applications downBy Christopher S. Rugaber


WASHINGTON -- The number of people seeking unemployment aid in the U.S. fell to a four-year low last week, bolstering the view that the job market is strengthening.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications dropped 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000, the lowest level since February 2008. The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, dipped to 355,000. That's also a four-year low.

Applications have steadily declined since last fall. The drop has coincided with the best three months of hiring in two years. From December through February, employers added an average of 245,000 jobs per month. That's pushed down the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent, the lowest in three years.

The report suggests that employers likely added a similar level of jobs in March.

Companies are hiring more because the economy is picking up. The economy grew at an annual rate of 3 percent in the final three months of last year. That was better than the 1.7 percent rate in the previous quarter.

There are other signs that the economy is steadily recovering. Consumers are more confident and have stepped up spending. Auto sales are rising. Even the battered housing market is showing signs of improving.

January and February comprised the best winter for sales of previously occupied homes in five years, according to figures released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors. January sales were the most since May 2010, the final month that a federal tax credit for home buyers was available. Sales dipped in February but were still 13 percent higher than six months earlier.

Developers are even seeking to build more homes. Requests for permits to build single-family homes and apartments rose 5 percent last month. That brought the annual rate for permits to the highest since October 2008, though they are still running at about half the rate of a healthy market.

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 Federal Reserve says it expects oil and gas prices to temporarily boost inflation but predicts that longer-term inflation should remain stable.

The job market still has a ways 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 some so-called "discouraged workers" to start looking again. The workforce rose by nearly a half-million in February.



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Welcome MSGT

There are no more people to lay off. Thats why the claims are dropping. Also obamas life time unemployment benefits are running out for some people, they are dying off.

March 23 2012 at 7:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
qaqs9000

It is a 4 year low. That doesn't mean everyone is working. The major recession after Regan and his trickle down economics failed was an embarasment to the republicans so they set up a new method to calculate the problem. When unemployment payments stop you are no longer listed as unemployed. Both parties have taken full advantage of the situation to downplay the real facts. This is not one that can be put on either party because both have used the half-truths to make themselves better in hard times. Don't forget though, we have added 3.5 million jobs in the private sector. Our country was on the very edge of collapse before Obama took office and he has brought us back to substantial growth. I know you will never hear that on FOX wanabe news because it just doesn't look good for the Republican party right now. The republicans will never tell your that their profits are through the roof and the stock market is booming. They will admit to marginal growth as they line their pockets with the money from the middle class. Any middle class person that votes for any republican is a boderline retarded fool.

March 23 2012 at 4:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to qaqs9000's comment
uncommonsensesc

You've been drinking the kool-aid, haven't you?

March 23 2012 at 5:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tutu

That is because s omany have run out of benefits and can not longer apply or draw. Not really rocket science or brain surgery.

March 23 2012 at 4:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hi,Duk!

When will the Pols and the "Spin Doctors" quit trying to use this lame lie? The ONLY reason there is a drop is because peoples benefits have run out, there are fewer people left to be fired and the Pols will NEVER release the REAL numbers in an election year. How can Huff expect us to believe anything they print when the keep pushing this lie? There are a record number of people unemployed right now. You'd have to go back many, many years to find one that is a s bad as these last few have been.

March 23 2012 at 3:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hi Den

Calculate the unemployment rate the way they did during the great depression and it would be 17%. Who do they think they are fooling with this nonsense. They pat themselves on the back because a restaurant just created a part time bus boy position.

March 23 2012 at 3:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
robincr77

BULL ****!!! EVERYONE IS LOOKING FOR JOBS!!! JUST NOT BEING COUNTED. I MOVED OUT OF STATE FROM MYRTLE BEACH TO NASHVILLE. APPLIED TO A LESS QUALIFIED JOB AND GOT A RESPONSE.... " WE HAVE LOCATED AN APPLICANT WITH MORE EXPERIENCE. CAREER BUILDER SENT ME AN E-MAIL "YOU ARE ONE OF 1,342 APPLICANTS... REALLY!!!! I STARTED MY EMPLOYMENT DOING THIS SH.T!!!! MORE THAN QUALIFIED....I AM SURE THAT NO ONE LOOKED AT MY RESUME...!

March 23 2012 at 2:46 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ectullis

Will the real unemployment rate please stand up.

March 23 2012 at 2:21 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ectullis's comment
Hi Den

Now that's funny. I needed a good laugh tonight......Most of comments on this board agree. Wait til we get close to the election, the dems will have us believe it's 4.5%

March 23 2012 at 3:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
oscaritogutiz

US Unemployment 4 year low..., really?... OK, so I am mother Teresa.

March 23 2012 at 12:57 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to oscaritogutiz's comment
Tutu

Good evening Mother.

March 23 2012 at 4:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hiviascr

For those who found work.........the question to be answered is how much of a pay cut were they forced to accept. Seems to be a reasonable number of low paying jobs in the marketplace. The times of getting paid what you may be truely worth are gone. Cooperate cut backs..........change position name..........rehire.........for substantially less.

March 23 2012 at 12:35 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hiviascr's comment
uncommonsensesc

The companies treat you horribly, you have to cross-train so they can make you do 2 people's jobs, there's little to no benefits and they'll tell you that you're lucky to have a job!

March 23 2012 at 5:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bill griffis

they still don ot count those who lose there benefits. and still can't fine work. i was one of 25 employees got laid off in jan 09 23 of us was over 40 none of us got called back out of 25 of us only 4 found jobs the company had a 6 months policy if u was laid of forr 6 months they did not have to call u back. they hire young workers to take our place i'm was lucky when my checks ran out i could go on SOCIAL SECURITY early retirement. and started to collect a very small pension.

March 23 2012 at 12:31 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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