Jobless claims fall to lowest in four and a half years

WASHINGTON, Thu Oct 11, 2012 – The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to the lowest level in more than four and a half years, according government data on Thursday that suggested improvement in the labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 30,000 to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, the Labor Department said. It was the lowest number of new claims since February 2008.

The prior week’s figure was revised up to show 2,000 more applications than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims edging up to 370,0000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, fell 11,500 to 364,000.

A Labor Department analyst said no states had been estimated for the latest report.

Recent data on the U.S. labor market has been encouraging.

Employers added a modest 114,000 jobs to their payrolls in September, but the unemployment rate dropped sharply to 7.8 percent, the lowest level since President Barack Obama took office.

Obama is in a tight fight with Republican challenger Mitt Romney less than a month before elections on Nov. 6, and the health of the labor market is an important factor for voters.

Jobless claims fall as plants put off retooling

WASHINGTON, Thu Jul 12, 2012 – The number of Americans lining up for jobless benefits last week fell to a four-year low, a hopeful sign for the struggling labor market although some of the improvement may be temporary, government data showed on Thursday.
A separate report showed import prices falling sharply in June, fresh evidence of a cooling global economy but also a reminder that a drop in gasoline prices could help U.S. consumers.
The Labor Department said new claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000.
The drop, which brought new claims to their lowest level since March 2008, was much steeper than Wall Street economists expected.
“It’s welcome news,” said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Capital in Jersey City, New Jersey.
U.S. stock index futures trimmed losses after the data. U.S. bond prices held gains, while the dollar fell against the yen.
The prior week’s figure was revised slightly higher to 376,000 from the previously reported 374,000.
Hiring by U.S. companies slowed dramatically in the second quarter as employers grew worried about Europe’s snowballing debt crisis, which is weighing on the global economy. Many employers also are concerned over the possibility the U.S. government may cut spending and let tax cuts expire next year, which could send the economy into recession.

Jobless claims hover near four-year lows

WASHINGTON – New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits edged down last week, holding near four-year lows, according to a government report on Thursday that suggested the labor market was gaining momentum.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 351,000, the Labor Department said. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 353,000 from the previously reported 351,000.

Claims have been hovering near four-year lows over the last few weeks. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims unchanged at 351,000 last week.

The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, dropped 5,500 to 354,000 – the lowest level since March 2008.

New applications for jobless benefits have declined through much of February, raising hopes for a third straight month of solid employment gains.

Nonfarm employment likely increased 200,000 last month, according to a Reuters survey, after rising 243,000 in January. The unemployment rate is seen holding at a three-year low of 8.3 percent in February.

The government will release February’s employment report on March 9. While the labor market is gaining momentum, the level of employment is still 5.82 million from its prerecession level.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke described the labor market as “far from normal” and that further improvement would require stronger growth in final demand and production.

A Labor Department official said there was nothing unusual in the state-level data and that no states had been estimated.

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid fell 2,000 to 3.40 million in the week ended Feb. 18.

So-called continued claims covered the survey period for the household survey from which the unemployment rate is derived. Continued claims have declined 165,000 between the January and February survey periods.

New jobless claims fall 10,000 for the second week in a row

WASHINGTON ― New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits declined for the second straight week, to the lowest level since the first week of April, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 390,000 in the week ended Nov. 5, slightly below the 400,000 that analysts polled by Reuters had expected. The government revised its estimate for claims during the prior week to 400,000 from 397,000.

Weekly claims still remain well above pre-recession levels and have only dipped below 400,000 — a threshold many economists believe signifies improving labor market conditions — 10 times over the past year.

A Labor Department official said a freak fall snowstorm that kept many people housebound in the Northeast did not affect initial jobless claims.

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid fell 92,000 in the week ended October 29 to 3.615 million. That was the steepest drop since February, and the lowest level since the week ended Sept. 20, 2008.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, fell to 400,000 from 405,250 the prior week, which was revised up from the previously reported 404,500.