Weekly Jobless Claims Fall For Second Consecutive Week

weekly jobless claims job fair unemployment layoffs
Tim Boyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

By JOSH BOAK

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 326,000, a sign that layoffs are weighing less on the job market and economic growth.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average dropped 13,500 to 335,000.

More than 4.7 million Americans collected benefits at the end of last year. The figure has declined almost 1.2 million over the past 12 months. But that number is poised drop by another 1.35 million in upcoming weeks. That's because a special federal program expired last month and is starting to affect recipients.

Applications appear to have stabilized near pre-recession levels, a positive sign for hiring going forward.

The job market had picked up toward the end of last year before losing some momentum in December. A mere 74,000 jobs were created last month, after the economy added an average of 213,500 new jobs in the previous four months.

Many economists blamed the slowdown in hiring on bad weather and statistical quirks, and projected stronger gains in the new year.

"Hiring indicators are almost uniformly quite strong, and we think the underlying trend in payroll growth likely has picked up, despite the fluke slowing in December," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The unemployment rate fell last month to 6.7 percent from 7 percent in November. Much that decrease came from 347,000 unemployed workers leaving the workforce. The government counts people as unemployed only if they are looking for work.

The expiration of long-term benefits could lead to further declines in the unemployment rate, perhaps as much as a quarter of percentage point in early 2014. That's because many of the former recipients will give up on job searches, which are required in order to receive benefits.

The program provided up to 47 extra weeks of unemployment benefits, paid for by the federal government. Those benefits offered payments averaging $256 a week to the long-term unemployed who exhausted their state benefits, which usually last for six months.

The Senate failed to advance an extension of benefits on Tuesday after lawmakers devoted a week toward hammering out a deal.

Because the figures for all benefits recipients are released with a two-week lag, the Labor Department has yet to report the impact of the program's end.

There are signs that recent hiring has helped to bolster the economy. Consumer confidence and retail spending have picked up in the October-December quarter. Orders to U.S. manufacturers rose in November, a sign that businesses are investing more on factory-made items such as machinery, computers and electrical goods.

The economy remains far from healthy. Income rose at a slower pace than spending last month, so Americans are spending more but saving less. And sales of existing homes have dropped for three straight months, held back by higher prices and mortgage rates.

Still, many economists have become more optimistic about the fourth quarter. Several are projecting a strong annual growth rate of 3 percent or more.

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Iselin007

And if Walchelin had left only one tree standing it just very well have been my family's tree.

January 16 2014 at 5:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

By the time you read my posts you may be unemployed. I hope reading my Historical Family Ancestry brings you some peace and entertains you while you look for another job.

Queen Elizabeth the I noted the coincidence of 2 Bishops of Winchester with the same name however she may not have know the Mystery surrounding Walchelin .

January 16 2014 at 4:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Historical Notes:

Manners maketh the man

John Henry was a steel driving man

Former owner of Robins Island

Walchelin
Robert De Stokes

Bishop of Winchester ( Actually a few more than one)

CSA Brigadier General Williams Carter W.

Georgianna W. wife of a son of CSA General Robert E Lee

Judson Kilpatrick ( Union)

William Hull W. Mayor of NYC and fundraiser for the base of the Statue Of Liberty

Above are just a minute bits of my actual family tree or related snips of history.

January 16 2014 at 4:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Casinos no longer have the growing middle class. While the retirees and older folks are much larger in population than before many have no available income to waist at the casinos. Millions of people here are undocumented and stuffed into basements and other places of shelter. The visa workers many fraudulent are too busy or short of extra cash to gamble. The gap in the classes has grown and much of the cash no longer flows to the casino industry.

Online or Offline the decimation of generations of middle class are showing up as losses in once profitable ventures. And for all you elite wiseguys and gals don't even think about forging your names in the Book Of Life!

January 16 2014 at 4:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Iselin007's comment
Iselin007

Waste is the correct word.

January 16 2014 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

With all these retailers in trouble facing losses, fines, hackers,and a saturated retail enviroment the job cuts have just begun, You better act now while you can still get a low wage, part time, job of short duration where you\'ll likely get wrongfully terminated. Since you won\'t actaully have to work there for that long you won\'t have to worry about losing unemployment benefits because you won\'t qualify with such short service!

January 16 2014 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Anyone notice the dependence on using retail to replace tax revenue is causing a saturation of a low wage jobs, dependence of public assistance, and a potential retail bubble. All these big box stores suffering from Holiday losses, retail saturation, and credit hackers means a really big loss in the retail sector is possible. Add the fact the deficit with China grew to 12 B in just one month an you\'ll get the picture.

January 16 2014 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

( .................) responds to government unfair labor charges? Think about that some of you could be working there after another round of cut backs in Information Technology and other fields of communication.

January 16 2014 at 3:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

I am curious how many staffers have to post here and how long before they become long term unemployed or worse not in the labor force! If your bored you can go to the web site for the history of Long Island NY where you\'ll read about members of my actual family during the War of Independence. Since my family was split on the war you\'ll wonder why General George Washington risked confering with Thomas W. when his brother Parker and others were supposedly on the other side of the war. Please if you find my family is who I said they were take the time to give me a job or donate funds so I can survive until the economy allows me some work. Thanks!

January 16 2014 at 3:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

I see constant cut backs at a particular ISP and the selling of sites. With so many people not working , partially working, or not in the labor force the loss of these posters is a little hard to explain unless most are broke so they can\'t afford the Online experience anymore. Run on sentences are in so enjoy!

January 16 2014 at 3:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

There are not many people posting here could that be because they are busy and fully employed or because they are among the 10.4 million unemployed who have not been lumped in the not in the labor force of over 91.8 million ?

Those figures mentioned above are likely to be just a estimate since we know they don\'t actually count everyone.

January 16 2014 at 3:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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