Jobless Claims Rise, Reversing Previous Week's Drop

By Paul Wiseman

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits surged last week, although the figures may have been distorted by seasonal factors.

The Labor Department says applications rose by 34,000 to a seasonally adjusted 386,000. The increase reversed a big drop the previous week.

Economists view the recent numbers with skepticism. They note that the government struggles to adjust the data to reflect temporary summertime layoffs in the auto industry. And this year, many automakers are foregoing the typical shutdowns because stronger sales have kept plants busier. That has made the process even more difficult.

The less volatile four-week average fell by 1,500 to 375,500.

Economists say the seasonal distortions may last a few weeks, making the figures difficult to analyze.

When applications fall below 375,000, it typically suggests hiring is strong enough to pull the unemployment rate down. Applications had been trending near or above that level this spring.

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The economy appears to be suffering its third straight midyear slump.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke this week offered a bleak assessment of the economy. And a survey from the Fed said hiring was "tepid" in most districts in June and early July, retail sales slowed in Boston, Cleveland and New York, and manufacturing weakened in most regions.

Job growth slowed to 75,000 a month from April through June, down from healthy 226,000 pace the first three months of the year. Unemployment has been stuck at 8.2 percent for two straight months.

Retail sales fell in June for the third straight month, prompting many economists to downgrade their estimates of economic growth in the April-June quarter. Many now think it will be even slower than the first quarter's sluggish 1.9 percent annual pace.

The only good news recently has been evidence of a long-awaited recovery in the housing market.

The government reported Wednesday that U.S. builders last month broke ground on the most homes in nearly four years. Single-family home building rose for a fourth straight month. And permits to build single-family homes hit the highest level since March 2010.

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My vote for next joblessness is John Boehner, Erik Cantor and Mitch McConnell

July 20 2012 at 3:09 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

This November, Obama, Biden, and all the congressional incumbents need to join the ranks of the jobless.

July 20 2012 at 2:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Want the economy to grow?
........ Obama must Go!

July 20 2012 at 2:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Ho Hum. One week up, one week down. This is as it always was. Only difference is the numbers are now bigger in both directions. We notice it more because more of us are suffering from the results of it all. Bottom line is the more we both save and spend responsibly the more the economy will recover. We have to stop listening to the politicians’ because it is clear that they have NO CLUE, and know that we are only able to rely on ourselves to turn this nightmare around.

July 20 2012 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The type of job is important. Many "new" jobs are part time,minimumwage, no benefit jobs like Wal-Mart. They will NOT replace a good paying job with benefits.

July 20 2012 at 1:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The economy is so bad that even Obama's Labor Department can't keep fudging the numbers anymore. Bad policies fail to help.

Can't wait for November when we un-elect the present Failure-in-Chief.

July 20 2012 at 1:23 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply


July 20 2012 at 1:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


The reason last week as SO low, and this week conversely high, is the number of folks on vacation for the Jul 4th Holiday week so they did NOT open their claims that week, and waited until after.

The rest of the article is top shelf spin and Bee Ess designed to the Obamabots optimistic.

July 20 2012 at 1:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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