Jobless Claims Rise: Labor Market Healing Slowly

jobless claims

By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON, Aug 23 -- The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week, suggesting that the labor market is healing too slowly to make much of a dent in the unemployment rate.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 372,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was the highest level in five weeks. The data keeps pressure on President Barack Obama ahead of his November re-election bid. His Republican challenger is trying to focus voters' attention on a lofty unemployment rate that has dogged Obama's presidency.

Many economists think the Federal Reserve could unveil a new bond buying program to prop up economic growth as soon as its next meeting on Sept. 12 and 13, although an improvement in hiring this month could make that less likely.

The report on jobless claims did have a silver lining, however.

The data covers the same week looked at by the government for its monthly measure of employment, and showed a slight drop in layoffs from the survey week last month, which is a mildly positive signal for hiring in August.

The four-week moving average for new claims, a measure of labor market trends, was 368,000 last week. That was a slight increase from the prior week, but still 2.1 percent lower than in the second week of July.

That week, the government surveyed employers and concluded that 163,000 new jobs were created in July -- an improvement from the prior three months, though the unemployment rate still ticked higher to 8.3 percent.

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The government will release its employment report for August on Sept. 7, and policymakers at the Federal Reserve will scrutinize the data for signs that the economy is improving.

Minutes from the Fed's July 31-Aug. 1 policy review, released on Wednesday, showed that the central bank is likely to deliver another round of monetary stimulus "fairly soon" unless the economy improves considerably.

Claims data, which swung wildly in July due to shifts in seasonal auto plant shutdowns, are now giving a clearer picture of the labor market's health.

Looming Economic Threats

A Labor Department official said there was nothing unusual in the state-level data. The prior week's figure for initial claims was revised higher to 368,000 from the previously reported 366,000.

The U.S. economy faces a number of threats, including the looming possibility that the government will raise taxes and cut spending. That is already hurting business sentiment.

Europe's festering debt crisis also menaces the global economy. Business surveys released on Thursday painted a global picture of economic malaise from Beijing to Berlin.

The euro zone economy will shrink by around 0.5 percent in the current quarter, with weakness even spreading through Germany, the region's largest and strongest economy, Markit's Purchasing Mangers' Index suggested.

Also worrisome for global growth, the HSBC Flash China manufacturing PMI fell to 47.8 for August, its lowest level since November and well down from July's final figure of 49.3.

In the United States, the number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid rose by 4,000 to 3.317 million in the week ended Aug. 11, the claims report showed.

A total of 5.59 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits under all programs in the week ended Aug. 4, down 109,812 from the prior week.

Will the Federal Reserve Announce a Plan to Stimulate the Economy After Recent Jobless Claims Data?

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I know SO many people who ARE actually working, AND collecting unemployment, and getting all kinds of assistance...such as HEEP, foodstamps, medicaid, free school lunch, WIC, and because they are working UNDER THE TABLE, they don't even pay taxes. So, they get to keep all their money (ie. no fica, etc.) and get all kinds of stuff for free....well guess's NOT FREE...and I am getting seriously pissed off...cuz I pay taxes, and I get nothing for free....all the people out there who are not paying their share are being unconstitutional...and don't tell me to report them ...cuz I have,....and guess changed NOTHING....the tax payers in this country are getting raped.....doesn't ANYONE HAVE INTEGRITY DO those people look themselves in the eye....I could get a second job in one day if I could physical stand to work even more to pay for all the freeloaders out there....there are jobs out there, i see wanted signs every single day...if you're NOT PAYING TAXES you are part of the problem.

October 05 2012 at 4:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the cause of poor jobs growth is the aging 76 million baby boomers reaching age 65 at the rate of 8,000 per day with too little saved for they are not buying stuff like they used to which created our economic boom....and no amount of govt spending can replace them which has been is doing well at this level of GDP but that leaves 15 -20 million surplus workers...consumer spending per capita has been constant since 1999 when corrected for inflation...and buying stuff made overseas does not create jobs for it will not matter who gets elected....the future is set, very predictable and unavoidable...same is true of all the WWII EU countries as well...they will keep on pumping up the debt until there is no more lenders...then comes the is all God's will of course as there can be no other....generator, operator, destroyer...ergo for details...

September 12 2012 at 10:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Things are not "healing". They are going down the tube. The only reason a business would invest in the future right now is that they are becoming convinced Obama will loose and sanity will soon return to america.

August 26 2012 at 10:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

American Presidents and Congresses in the past have deemed it imperative to ACT
in a timely and decisive manner to Right the wrongs done by previous Office Holders. But such is not the case now, because Politicians of today no longer practice honesty and exercise any genuine concern for the common good of ALL. And this, in and of itself is the root cause of America's gross lack of morality and Citizen progress.
In this Atomic, Space, and Cyber Age we now live in, every Country must adhere
to sensible, honest and practical lawmaking. Coupled with Judicial and Executive decision making that breeds American entrepreneurship, and the dire needed new business startups that's commensurate with global demands for goods and services. But in order for this to happen, our President, the Congress, NGOS', Businesses and responsible Citizens must seize the spirit of mutual interest, and unity of purposes. And began to make our Nation, and the World as great as it can be, without the lies, deceit, and rampant government hypocrisy that now exist.
Only the re-education of America and a new kind of - - Internet learning the World over will make possible the creation of the number, and quality of employment/jobs that are needed now, and in the future.

August 23 2012 at 8:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Companies, stores, and small employers won't hire, because they don't really confident theat their businesses will be sustained by consumer spending.
Consumer spending won't go up because there are too many long term unemployed, too many never-employed, not enough jobs for teens because older folks are taking the jobs in desparation.
High foreclosures were caused by banks that were MANDATED to make loans on substandard documentation of income, to folks not really financially qualified who speculated about ever rising property values.
Bad load debt was consolidated and resold to other banks, putting many banks and countried in peril, because there was little regulation of the banking industry, along with the mandates to make substandard home loans.

Let's not put the blame on Democrats entirely for not being able to fix a problem created during 8 years of Republic policy setting! Yes, Obama's administration may have failed to take suitable steps to help turn things around (they GAVE many months of prolonged unemployment benefits, rather than putting the folks to work on fixing our infrastructure, as they should have, like what built the roads and dams in the Great Depression's work efforts) but equal blame lies with the other party and the crumbling foundation that they allowed to happen in the years leading to the Great Recession.

Put blame where blame belongs!

August 23 2012 at 7:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We laid off 60 people at my company 2 weeks ago, due to the fact that our taxes are going up a lot in January not to mention the "fees" for Obamacare. If he is reelected I can see the unemployment numbers going up a lot. I know I have plans on downsizing my business by about 25% next year just to keep those who do the best work employeed. Like I have told my employees, if you want to keep working, do not vote him in.

August 23 2012 at 6:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"A total of 5.59 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits under all programs in the week ended Aug. 4, down 109,812 from the prior week. "...and fails to note the number of long term unemployed who do not collect any unemployment benefits...
recent graduates with never a full time paying position which qualifies them for unemployment
contract employees, whose contrat employers pay nothing into state unemployment programs for them
long term unemployed, who exhausted whatever benefits they could collect.

August 23 2012 at 6:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

rommey supporters do most of the hiring, they will hold off until after the election to try ansd secure more tax breaks. Theory is if you shift tax load to working poor the rich will hire more peope and make more money that will not be taxed. They will get rid of safety nets so those under 55 will have to work to well part 70 becauae their will be no retirement fund or medicare for them.

August 23 2012 at 6:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obama has to go he had the first two years al dems.did nothing got to go to save america

August 23 2012 at 6:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tommy6's comment


August 23 2012 at 6:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wonder if O is still planning on giving out all those pink slips just before election day? 20,000? more?

August 23 2012 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to leachchild2012's comment

Most likely.

August 23 2012 at 6:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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