Jobless benefits claims fall to lowest since 2008

WASHINGTON , Thu Apr 5, 2012 – The number of Americans lining up for new jobless benefits fell to the lowest level in nearly four years last week, according to a government report that showed ongoing healing in the labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000, the lowest since April 2008, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

“The claims data are consistent with modest job growth in March,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, and economist at BNP Paribas in New York.

Futures for stocks pared losses following the data’s publication while prices on U.S. government debt trimmed gains. The euro extended losses against the dollar.

Thursday’s weekly claims report has no direct relationship to the March employment report due on Friday because the data for the monthly report was gathered earlier in the month.

But the claims data could bolster the case that the healing labor market is lowering the need for the Federal Reserve to do more to boost growth.

Economists polled by Reuters expect the employment report will show the U.S. economy added 203,000 jobs last month, notching up a fourth straight month of solid job.

That would mark the longest stretch of monthly employment gains topping 200,000 since 1999.

The four-week moving average for new claims, a measure of labor market trends, declined 4,250 to 361,750.

Jobless claims fall to four-year low, suggesting jobs recovery gaining traction

WASHINGTON, Thu Mar 22, 2012 – The number of Americans claiming new unemployment benefits dropped to a four-year low last week, offering further evidence the jobs market recovery was gaining traction.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000, the lowest level since February 2008, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

The prior week’s figure was revised up to 353,000 from the previously reported 351,000. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 354,000 last week.

The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, declined 1,250 to 355,000.

The claims data covered the survey week for March nonfarm payrolls. Claims dropped 5,000 between the February and March survey periods, suggesting another month of solid job gains.

“That’s another indication that the labor market is healing. That’s good news for the March payroll report,” said Gus Faucher, a senior economist at PNC Financial Services in Pittsburgh.

Jobless claims fall to four-year low, manufacturing holds up

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, Fri Mar 16, 2012 — Economic growth showed signs of becoming more self-sustaining as the number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits fell back to a four-year low last week and manufacturing activity in the Northeast picked up this month.

But the impact of higher oil prices also was starting to be seen in data on Thursday. Producer prices racked up their biggest increase in five months in February, while manufacturers in New York state reported a surge in input costs in March.

The recent gains in oil and gasoline prices have raised concerns the higher costs could start to squeeze businesses and consumers and put a dent in the recovery.

Still, producer prices last month did not rise as much as economists had expected, and underlying inflation pressures were contained.

Thursday’s initial claims data for state unemployment benefits was further evidence of an improving labor market after the jobless rate held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent in February.

“This suggests that the recovery is firmly on track,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Federal Reserve earlier this week acknowledged the recent improvement in the labor market, but remained concerned with the still-high unemployment rate. The central bank also reiterated its expectation it will keep interest rates at ultra-low levels through late-2014 as part of its efforts to support the economy.

Jobless claims hold steady at four-year low

WASHINGTON – The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits last week held at the lowest level since the early days of the 2007-2009 recession, signaling that the battered labor market is healing.

Workers filed 351,000 initial claims for state unemployment benefits, the same as in the prior week, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

The data suggests that a long cycle of heavy layoffs has run it course, laying the ground for more hiring.

“The economy is on the mend from a job creation perspective,” said Phil Orlando, a market strategist at Federated Investors in New York.

The last two weekly readings for claims were the lowest since March 2008, just three months after the deep recession began. Initial filings peaked above 650,000 in March 2009.

Signs of improvement in the job market have been growing.

The unemployment rate, which stood at 9.1 percent in August, dropped to 8.3 percent in January, and additions to payrolls have exceeded 200,000 for two straight months.

The latest jobless claims data covered the week that corresponds with the sample period for the government’s February payroll report, and suggests another solid month for hiring.

“It’s hard not to be optimistic about this,” said Brian Levitt, and economist at OppenheimerFunds in New York.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has left benchmark interest rates near zero since December 2008 to coax companies to take on more workers, and the recent improvement in the labor market has dampened expectations of further monetary stimulus.

New unemployment benefits claims fall 15,000 last week

WASHINGTON ― New claims for unemployment benefits fell by 15,000 last week in the latest sign the labor market was improving and could help the country resist the effects of a likely euro zone recession.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 372,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week’s claims data was revised up to 387,000 from the previously reported 381,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 375,000. A Labor Department official said there was nothing unusual in the data, although the figures for three states, including California and Virginia, had been estimated.

Claims have now fallen in four of the last five weeks, and the four-week moving average ― a better measure of trends – fell 3,250 to 376,500, the lowest level since June 2008.

Economists at Goldman Sachs said in December that weekly claims below 435,000 pointed to net monthly gains in jobs.

An improving labor market has boosted the view the economy wrapped up 2011 on better footing, leaving it well positioned to deal with headwinds from Europe’s debt crisis and fiscal tightening at home.

Still, a moribund U.S. housing market and persistently high unemployment threaten the recovery.

In the week ending December 24, the number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid fell 22,000 to 3.595 million. Economists had forecast so-called continuing claims holding about steady at 3.58 million.

As of Dec 17, a total of 7.223 million people were claiming unemployment benefits under all programs, down 8,311 from the prior week.

Data on Wednesday showed U.S. manufacturing growing at its fastest pace in six months during December, capping a late-year upswing.

Fourth-quarter growth is seen topping a 3 percent annual pace, rising from the July-September period’s 1.8 percent rate.

Jobless claims fall to lowest since April 2008, suggesting labor recovery growth

WASHINGTON ― New claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week to its lowest in more than 3-1/2 years, suggesting the labor market recovery was gaining speed.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 364,000, the Labor Department said. That was the lowest level since April 2008.

The economy has shown signs it is gaining steam as the year ends, although the recovery still could be derailed by any big flare up in Europe’s debt crisis. The economy also faces risks from the fight in Congress over extending special unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut.

The prior week’s claims data was revised up to 368,000 from the previously reported 366,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 375,000 last week.

The level of unemployment claims has fallen in recent weeks, and analysts say fewer layoffs means employers are probably more likely to hire.

Economists at Goldman Sachs said earlier in the week that weekly claims below 435,000 pointed to net monthly gains in jobs. Their research was based on figures available through October.

In November, the jobless rate dropped to a 2-1/2 year low of 8.6 percent. The Federal Reserve last week acknowledged an improvement in the jobs market, but said unemployment remained high and left the door open for further measures to help the economy.

A Labor Department official said claims were not estimated for any states, and that there was nothing unusual in the data.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends than the headline number, fell 8,000 to 380,250 — the lowest since June 2008.

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid fell 79,000 to 3.546 million in the week ended Dec. 10.

Economists had forecast so-called continuing claims holding steady at 3.6 million.

As of Dec 3, a total of 7.150 million people were claiming unemployment benefits under all programs, down 299,738 from the prior week.

Jobless claims drop to 3.5 year low; labor market strength seen

WASHINGTON ― New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a 3½  year low last week, a government report showed on Thursday, suggesting the labor market recovery was gaining speed.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000, the Labor Department said. That was the lowest level since May 2008.

The prior week’s claims data was revised up to 385,000 from the previously reported 381,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 390,000 last week.

The unexpected drop in claims last week pushed them closer to the 350,000 mark that analysts say signals labor market strength.

It offered further evidence of increased momentum in the pace of economic activity, even though retail sales rose modestly in November. This is in sharp contrast to Europe, where t he festering debt crisis has already pushed some economies into recession.

The Federal Reserve on Tuesday acknowledged the improvement in the jobs market, but said unemployment remained high. The jobless rate dropped to a 2-1/2 year low of 8.6 percent in November.

The U.S. central bank said the debt crisis gripping Europe was a big risk to the U.S. economy, which it described as “expanding moderately”.

A Labor Department official said there was nothing unusual in the state level data and noted that only one state had been estimated.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, fell 6,500 to 387,750 — the lowest since mid-July 2008.

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid edged up 4,000 to 3.6 million in the week ended Dec. 3.

Economists had forecast so-called continuing claims rising to 3.63 million from a previously reported 3.58 million.

The number of Americans on emergency unemployment benefits increased 254,642 to 3.05 million in the week ended Nov. 26, the latest week for which data is available.

A total of 7.45 million people were claiming unemployment benefits during that period under all programs, up 874,670 from the prior week.

New claims for unemployment benefits fall 9,000 in latest week

WASHINGTON ― New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits fell below 400,000 last week for the first time in five weeks and a trend reading also edged lower, suggesting a modest improvement in the still-moribund labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped by 9,000 in the week ending October 29 to a seasonally adjusted 397,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The government raised slightly its estimate for claims filed during the prior week to 406,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims edging down to 400,000 from the previously reported 402,000.

The level of weekly claims remains well above pre-recession levels and has dipped below 400,000 only on brief occasions this year, suggesting no fast turnaround is imminent for the jobs market.

A Labor Department official said the government had to estimate claims for two states — Connecticut and Oklahoma — but believed the estimates did not affect the overall report.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, fell 2,000 to 404,500.

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid dropped 15,000 to 3.683 million in the week ended Oct. 22.

Economists had forecast so-called continuing claims at 3.69 million.

A total of 6.782 million people were claiming unemployment benefits in the week ended Oct. 15, up from 6.679 million during the prior week.