Jobless Claims Fall Sharply to 5-Year Low

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By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell sharply last week to its lowest level since the early days of the 2007-09 recession, suggesting the job market is still healing despite weakness in the broader economy.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 18,000 to a seasonally adjusted 324,000 the Labor Department said on Thursday. The level of claims was the lowest since January 2008, a month after the beginning of a deep recession. A Labor Department analyst said there was nothing unusual in the data and no states had estimated their claims.

The data runs counter to a growing number of signals that economic activity softened in March and April, a phenomena economists have dubbed the spring swoon because it also happened in the previous two years. The data have no direct bearing on the Labor Department's monthly employment report for April due on Friday. However, it suggests that while employers have been shy about hiring, they are feeling less pressure to lay workers off. The four-week moving average for new claims, a less volatile measure of labor market trends, fell 16,000 last week to 342,250.

More: The Real Unemployment Rate Is Worse Than You Think

Economists expect Friday's jobs report will show employers hired 145,000 people last month. Employers added only 88,000 workers to their payrolls in March after a solid 268,000 increase in February. The recent slowdown in the economy has been blamed on government belt-tightening, although analysts also think a mild winter followed by an unusually cold March may have led some employers and consumers to bring forward hiring and purchases.

Ongoing weakness in the labor market led the U.S. Federal Reserve to keep a monetary stimulus programs at full throttle on Wednesday following a two-day policy review. Policymakers said in a statement they could even step up bond purchases to help the economy more if needed.

Analysts had expected 345,000 new jobless claims last week. The prior week's reading was revised to show 3,000 more applications than previously reported.

Claims during the spring are difficult to adjust for seasonal swings, although a Labor Department analyst said most spring holiday breaks have passed.

Jobless Claims Drop 16,000‚Äč

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Everybody knows the government employment figures are phoney. Real unemployment is around 15%. The economy is controlled by more workesr employed and less regulation on businesses. Obamacare kill employment. More taxes takes money out of the economy. Government need to get out of the welfare business and let the people take care of those who cannot help themselves. The American people are the most generous people in the world. We have the highest Corporate tax rate in the world. Why would any business want to be in America??? Government can solve this problem with changing to LESS GOVERNMENT.

May 09 2013 at 8:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Are we at a low because people are working, or are we at a low because people have run out of unemployment benefits and have stopped looking because they cant get hired? Just a question I think we should be asking.

May 05 2013 at 8:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Patricia's comment

at a five year low, and still millions, not working!!! they all must've won the lottery!!!

May 05 2013 at 8:39 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Millions have ceased looking or have run out of benefit. Many of the "jobs" that included in the ridiculous employment numbers are part time as is witnessed by the 34.4 hour per week average. In the old days, working a day or two or less than 40 hours did not count. Now anything does, so as to make the numbers work the way the government wishes them to appear. "Real" jobs are NOT out there. $.04 an hour increase for the month!! WOW!! Hogwash!

May 05 2013 at 8:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Things keep getting better and better inspite of the GOP trying reck it and blame the president. The GOP will never get the WH back until they have a change of heart, but that want happen. 2014 and 2016 real downers for the party of NO!

May 05 2013 at 8:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That's another thing...Fulltime or parttime? The actual man worked hours has fallen dramatically....So it's not enough that people are employed, it's that they are under employed.

May 05 2013 at 8:00 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

If the same amount of people were actually looking for work now, as were in 2008, the unemployment rate would be 11%. The only reason it's come down any, is because millions are no longer looking for work and are off the roles to be counted at all.

May 05 2013 at 7:58 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

wow it looks like our economy has never ever been better hail king obama

May 05 2013 at 3:00 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hiler's comment

Hail Bush for destroying it in the first place!

May 05 2013 at 4:41 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Excuse me, Jason, but it is 4 years not 5, and Obama's lowest unemployment rate (this one at 7.5%) has NEVER been as low as George Bush's highest (7.3% 12/2008)

You indicate the recession was for the years 2007-2009, however
Bush's average for 2007 was 4.61% and for 2008 an average of 5.8%

Bush's average for 8 years was 5.27.

Obama's average for 4+ years is 9.0%

May 05 2013 at 1:15 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Reb's comment

Reb, Thank you. You are so correct. Those figures were legitimate. Obama's are based on a base that is well lower than the TRUE number of Americans including those who have ceased looking and/or run out of benefits. The REAL percentage is close to 14% by all accounts.

May 05 2013 at 8:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

is this full time or part time jobs///

May 05 2013 at 12:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not the real unemployment number. It is over 13%. But they will continue to fudge the numbers, as clinton set it up.

May 04 2013 at 11:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Steve's comment

Clinton? So I guess it was a lot worse under Bush too. But I will say this, 13% is about half of what was being claimed 4 years ago. Another Obama success story.

May 04 2013 at 11:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Frank's comment

Another obama success story? Pray tell what are "the other ones"?

May 05 2013 at 5:11 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down

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