Unemployment Claims Drop -- But Not By Much

unemployment applicationsBy Paul Wiseman

WASHINGTON -- The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits fell last week, suggesting modest job growth after three months of weak hiring.

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for weekly benefits dropped by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 377,000. That's down from an upwardly revised 389,000 the previous week. It was the first decline in five weeks. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose by 1,750 to 377,500, the highest level in a month.

Applications are a measure of the pace of layoffs. When claims dip below 375,000, it typically suggests hiring is strong enough to reduce the unemployment rate. They have stabilized near that level this year after declining sharply last fall.

The government last week reported that the unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent in May from 8.1 percent in April. Employers added 69,000 jobs, the fewest in a year.

Job growth averaged a decent 252,000 a month from December through February. But hiring has slowed to an average 96,000 a month since then.

The government also reported last week that the economy grew at a sluggish annual rate of 1.9 percent in the first three months of 2012, which is consistent with monthly job growth of around 90,000.

The economy is still struggling three years after the recession officially ended in June 2009. Wages haven't kept up with inflation, pinching consumer spending. State and local governments have continued to shed jobs.

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The United States has regained less than 3.8 million, or 43 percent, of the 8.8 million jobs lost during and immediately after the recession.

There have been some signs this week that hiring could improve.

A Labor Department report Wednesday suggested that companies may have to start hiring if business picks up: U.S. worker productivity fell by the largest amount in a year from January through March. The drop signals that companies are struggling to squeeze more out of their existing staffs.

And the Federal Reserve issued an updated economic report Wednesday, saying that the economy grew modestly across most of the United States this spring. The Fed survey shows growth in each of its 12 bank districts from April 3 through May 25. Growth picked up in 10 districts. It was steady in the Boston district and slowed in the Philadelphia region.

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How about, the government is discontinuing emergency benefits to make the unemployment numbers look better. Then they are transitioning the unemployed to state Social Services benefits..quick fix for the election...Numbers game..

June 18 2012 at 7:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Labor is getting more expensive in the slave wage countries, so, some manufacturing is coming back and the health care industry has large growth. The Republicans just blocked (sigh) another bill that would create 33,000 jobs. The Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act.

June 07 2012 at 5:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obumma has to own his record and answer for his inablilty to govern. Blaming Bush is old and worn out. My way or Hi-way attitute Obumma tried to shave down the throats of Congress and fussing at them for not getting his way is why nobody wants to work with him on anything.

June 07 2012 at 3:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Something else that is missing are the number of high school students that would love to have a summer job, but can't unless they speak spanish. Then there is the underemployed. I've lost over 100K of earnings potential since the first Bush crash in 2003 and I don't see that ever coming back, NAFTA and the other freedoms Congress has taken to off shore so many jobs, I'm just sick, congress has caused so many irrecoverable harms its not funny. It started in 2000 and has only gotten worse. Neither party gives a damn for the country, they are only about riding their gravy train to retirement which we as citizens pay for and do not get. Do not elect any incumbent this November. It's not worth the cost.

June 07 2012 at 3:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obama says he need more than 4 years to fix the so-called Bush recession even though
Obama had super-majorities in both house of congress for his first two years and did
NOTHING except get his onerous Obama-care passed and his $1 trillion dollars stimulus
he said created 2 million jobs (that is a cost of $500,000 per job) that were mostly minimum wage. However, the 8.2% unemployment rate is really about 17% if you factor in those that quit looking
and have run out of unemployment benefits. They have dropped off the rolls.
Let's go back to 1981. Reagan took office with double digit unemployment, double digit
mortgage (and prime) rate and double digit inflation. By 1983, just two years after he implemented
his policies, the nations unemployment rate was cut almost in half, Mortgage rates were
back down to the historic 6% rate and inflation was cut to a manageble 5-6%. How come
he did it in 2 years and Obama hasn't done it in 3 1/2. It is because Obama is a socialist
and the more dire the economic situation the more he gets people to look to the government
for help. He has done a good job. Even though we have this bad economy, 45-46% of the
public thinks he is right for the country. Too many people are not self-reliant anymore and
want the government to give them everything.

June 07 2012 at 1:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to krs's comment

You people have zero integrity. You are wrong on every claim you make! Tell me, where do you get your information, National Lampoon or National Enquirer? Their supermajority lasted 4 1/2 months where they passed a stimulus that created 3.3 million jobs and counting! Reagan RUINED the economy, VOLCKER had to FIX it! In addition, Democrats worked with Reagan, Republicans are inoperable! Obama is a democratic capitalist, not a socialist, Republicans don't FIX the economy, they TANK it!

June 07 2012 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does anyone know how long unemployment benefits last?

Or is it state by state??


June 07 2012 at 1:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to apsjr29's comment

By state.


June 07 2012 at 3:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Probably just more people dropped off the rolls but this admin will put a different spin on it to help BOs image.

June 07 2012 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


June 07 2012 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is too bad that these unemployment figures do not take in to account those people who have exhausted their benefits....unfortunatel, the number would be higher.

June 07 2012 at 11:42 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Randi's comment
Paul G Celentano

Randi is correct.
My benefits in PA ran out after 20 months.
Now I am no longer considered unemployed.
Therefore the unemployment rate is revised down.
Here's the catch (or the government's big lie).
My unemployment benefits were denied because the unemployment rate has gone lower.
Catch-22 and 1984 all wrapped up in one!

BTW Facstrfun1: What is your favorite Kool-Aid flavor?
Might I remind you of your own phrase?
"It's the economy, stupid!"
It's not the health care or the social security or the Medicaid and Medicare.
Fix the economy and those things will fix themselves.
Where are the jobs for the Keystone Pipeline that Obama shot down?

June 18 2012 at 9:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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