US unemployment benefit applications dip to 339K

a a a a
Share this story

 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, the fifth straight decline that shows businesses see little need to cut jobs.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average fell 5,750 to 344,000. The average has dropped 11 percent in the past year.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have fallen back near pre-recession levels this month after spiking in early October because of the partial government shutdown and processing backlogs in California. The steady declines are the latest sign that companies are firing fewer workers.

And last week's report on hiring and unemployment in October showed that businesses are also hiring workers at a steady pace.

Employers added 204,000 jobs last month, many more than expected and a sign that companies shrugged off the 16-day shutdown. Private businesses added 212,000 positions, the most since February.

Companies have stepped up hiring as growth has picked up. Employers added an average of 202,000 jobs per month from August through October. That's up sharply from an average of 146,000 in May through July.

The economy expanded at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter, up from a 2.5 percent rate in the previous quarter and just a 1.1 percent rate in the first three months of the year.

Solid job gains should support steady growth in the coming months. Greater hiring, combined with modest increases in pay, could encourage Americans to spend more. Consumer spending drives roughly 70 percent of economic activity.

Still, the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.3 percent last month from 7.2 percent in September. But that was partly because many federal workers were temporarily laid off during the shutdown.

About 3.9 million people received benefits in the week ending Oct. 26, the latest data available. That's about 53,000 fewer than the previous week.

The total unemployment benefit rolls have fallen 22 percent in the past year. Many of those former recipients have likely found jobs. But most have probably used up all their benefits without finding work.

Job growth is a major factor for the Federal Reserve, which is weighing when to reduce its economic stimulus. The Fed has been buying $85 billion-a-month in bonds to keep long-term interest rates low and encourage borrowing and spending.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More National News
Study: Girls view sexual violence as normal
Study: Girls view sexual violence as normal

New research from the journal Gender & Society shows girls view sexual violence as a normal part of life.

Mother of 3 shot, killed while on phone with 911
Mother of 3 shot, killed while on phone with 911

A 44-year-old mother of three was shot to death by her "hallucinating" husband while she was on the phone with 911, waiting for…

Little government response a year later
Little government response a year later

A year after homemade bombs ripped through the Boston Marathon, state and federal officials have enacted virtually no policy changes in…

Boston Marathon staff confident of safe race
Boston Marathon staff confident of safe race

The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while…

Missing Neb. boy, 3, found safe in toy claw game
Missing Neb. boy, 3, found safe in toy claw game

A 3-year-old Nebraska boy is now safe after somehow crawling his way into a stuffed animal claw machine at a bowling alley across the street…

Male cop dresses as Amish woman to stop flasher
Male cop dresses as Amish woman to stop flasher

A western Pennsylvania police officer says he spent much of December and January dressed as an Amish woman in hopes of scaring off a man…

Man charged with marathon hoax held on bail
Man charged with marathon hoax held on bail

A man who authorities say was taken into custody near the Boston Marathon finish line carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker on the…

Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies
Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies

Negative campaigning and mudslinging may be a fact of life in American politics, but can false accusations made in the heat of an election be…

Dress codes: Where should schools set limits?
Dress codes: Where should schools set limits?

They're called leggings - popular fashion items that are tight-fitting pants to some, and glorified tights to others.

Boston PD safely blow up suspicious backpacks
Boston PD safely blow up suspicious backpacks

Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that…