Jobless Claims Drop Sharply, As Employers Curb Layoffs

weekly jobless claims drop

By Christopher Rugaber

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply for a fourth straight week, a sign that the job market may be improving.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 29,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 343,000, the lowest in two months. It is the second-lowest total this year.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the drop indicates that companies are cutting fewer jobs. But employers also need to step up hiring to rapidly push down the unemployment rate.

Applications spiked five weeks ago because of Superstorm Sandy. The storm's impact has now faded. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell 27,000 to 381,500. Before the storm, applications had fluctuated between 360,000 and 390,000 this year.

The storm had little effect on overall hiring in November. Employers added 146,000 jobs last month, the government said last week. That's about the same as the average monthly gain of 150,000 in the past year.

More: November Jobs Report: Hiring Up, Unemployment Rate Falls, Despite Sandy

The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent -- a four-year low -- from 7.9 percent in October. But the decline occurred mostly because more people without jobs gave up looking for work. The government counts people without jobs as unemployed only if they're actively seeking one.

The department also said Tuesday that employers posted the most open jobs in four months in October. That suggests that hiring could pick up a bit in the coming months.

But some companies may postpone hiring this month because of concerns over the "fiscal cliff," the package of tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect next year. If all the changes in the cliff take effect for a full year, economists forecast it would push the economy into recession.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are negotiating a potential deficit-reduction deal that would avert the cliff. The goal is to complete an agreement by the end of the year, though talks could continue into January.

Most economists say that if the tax increases and spending cuts are in effect only temporarily while a budget agreement is in sight, the damage to the economy would be minor.

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What a big fat lie. The folks who received extended unemployment benefits are being cut off now. It's happening everywhere. Interesting how 25% of those on extended benefits in California found jobs almost immediately after being informed their benefits were expiring.

December 14 2012 at 8:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I doubt very much that the jobless rate has dropped. It's the fact that unemployment benefits have run out for a lot of people. Too bad the news has to be skewed in order for Obama to look good. And whatever happened to investigative journalism? Does the media not check the facts before they print something? Oh, I forgot, it's the media we're talking about and they don't check anything. They don't report news anymore, they make it up!

December 14 2012 at 6:28 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Too funny---AOL has been reporting a drop in unemployment for the past 4 years. Betcha those characters say the same in the next 4. Typical.

December 14 2012 at 6:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How strange... Right above this story is "Bank Slashes 2,000 Positions"
I guess that makes this story a LIE making people think unemployment is getting better when we ALL know it isn't.I guess the Government thinks we are all stupid.. How about counting those who ran out of benifits give the REAL unemployment numbers not some BS numbers!!

December 14 2012 at 4:26 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Nancy's comment

Agree. AOL & Friends often fictionalize to make themselves look 'in the know' lol....

December 14 2012 at 6:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Isnt that great news, only 343000 people lost their jobs just before the holidays. Another reason for liberals to go kiss the backside of fearless leader. Thats just great only 343,000 more unemployed. Thats just great.

December 14 2012 at 3:57 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I AM SO DAMN SICK AND TIRED OF THESE LIES BEING TOLD ABOUT THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE I COULD PUKE! The reason the unemployment numbers look great is that all of us have run out of "benefits!" If you don't file for benefits, you don't show up in the numbers!!! Time after time after time, these stories come out that the unemployment rate is falling and the job market is just wonderful while the whole time it's a mix of everyone running out of benefits added with the seasonal jobs for this time of year! Cripes! Like we're all stupid enough to believe that every store on every corner is hiring!

December 13 2012 at 11:21 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

what they forgot to tell you is every one that was hired is only getting $8 an hour

December 13 2012 at 11:08 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

figures don't lie. But liars figure

December 13 2012 at 10:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a ridiculous story. Sure thing, hiring just got better! Layoffs and those unemployed are not reflected by those that are no longer receiving unemployment benefits. Besides it is Christmas time, seasonal workers are being hired and will then be unemployed again after the season.

December 13 2012 at 9:40 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply


December 13 2012 at 8:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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