clear
Monday May 4th, 2015 6:05AM

Superstorm blamed for uptick in jobless claims

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Superstorm Sandy drove the number of people seeking unemployment benefits up to a seasonally adjusted 439,000 last week, the highest level in 18 months.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications increased by 78,000 mostly because a large number of applications were filed in states damaged by the storm. People can claim unemployment benefits if their workplaces close and they don't get paid.

The storm has affected the claims data for the past two weeks and may distort reports for another two weeks, the department has said.

Sal Guatieri, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said that a similar jump in applications occurred after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"We should see a full retracement of this increase in coming weeks," he said. Applications were declining before the storm, he added, "though levels are consistent with moderate, rather than strong, job growth."

The four-week average of applications, a less volatile number, increased to 383,750.

Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast on Oct. 29 and disrupted businesses from North Carolina to Maine. The storm also cut power to roughly 8.5 million homes and businesses in 10 states. Some are still without power.

Before the storm distorted the figures, weekly applications had fluctuated between 360,000 and 390,000 since January. At the same time, employers have added an average of nearly 157,000 jobs a month. That's barely enough to lower the unemployment rate, which was 7.9 percent in October.

There are some signs that the job market is improving. Employers added 171,000 jobs in October and hiring in August and September was stronger than first estimated. The economy has gained an average of 173,000 jobs a month since July. That's up from an average of 67,000 a month in April through June.

The unemployment rate rose slightly in October from 7.8 percent in the previous month because more Americans began looking for work. That suggest some felt their chances of finding a job had improved. Not all of them found jobs, which pushed up the unemployment rate. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching for work.

The number of people continuing to receive benefits fell about 100,000 to just under 5 million in the week ended Oct. 27, the latest data available. Some of those no longer receiving benefits may have gotten jobs. But many have used up all the benefits available.

The economy appears to have grown faster over the summer than first thought, based on a handful of positive September reports on inventory growth and trade released this month. Many economists now predict growth at an annual rate of roughly 3 percent in the July-September quarter, up from the initial estimate of 2 percent reported last month.

The government releases its second estimate for third-quarter growth on Nov. 29.

Still, many economists say the economy is growing in the current October-December quarter at a weak annual rate below 2 percent.

The storm combined with cautious consumers to lower retail sales in October. Consumers may also be holding back because of anxiety over big tax increases and spending cuts - known as the "fiscal cliff" - that will take effect in January unless Congress and the White House reach a budget deal by then. Many companies are likely to scale back hiring and investment, too, until the fiscal cliff debate is resolved.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Doctors: Blood clot located in Clinton's head
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton developed a blood clot in her head but did not suffer a stroke or neurological damage, her doctors said Monday. They say they are confident that she will make a full recovery.
3:55PM ( 2 years ago )
Illinois Sen. Kirk to return a year after stroke
Nearly a year after a stroke left him barely able to move the left side of his body, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is expected to climb the 45 steps to the Senate's front door this week - a walk that's significant not just for Illinois' junior senator, but also for medical researchers and hundreds of thousands of stroke patients.
3:54PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
Ga. ethics legislation could end free tickets
General Assembly approval next year of a proposed ethics reform measure could endanger an important fall tradition for Georgia lawmakers - free football tickets.
6:26PM ( 2 years ago )
Abortion restrictions, tax changes loom in Ga.
Tax breaks for manufacturers and higher unemployment taxes for employers take effect with the new year in Georgia, but it remains to be seen whether the state's newest abortion restrictions will be enforced.
6:23PM ( 2 years ago )
Business News
Couch names administrative team
Ahead of his scheduled swearing in Friday, Hall County Sheriff-elect Gerald Couch named his top administrative team Monday.
6:28PM ( 2 years ago )
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 2 years ago )
Hall Co. officials launch health-based initiative for employees
Hall County officials believe healthy county employees will be of greater service to the county. With that in mind, they have created a health-based fitness initiative to provide free fitness training for county workers.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
Sheriff Victor Hill accused of shooting woman in the abdomen in Gwinnett Co.
A Georgia sheriff is accused of shooting a Lawrenceville woman in the abdomen, injuring her critically.
By Associated Press
5:14AM ( 51 minutes ago )
GOP field grows: Fiorina, Carson to launch presidential bids
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former technology executive Carly Fiorina and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson are set to launch their runs for president on Monday, each with the potential to help the Republican Par...
3:09AM ( 2 hours ago )
Jackson County investigating body found at school
The body of a female was found Sunday on the campus of a Jackson County school.
By Rob Moore
9:21PM ( 8 hours ago )
Police have identified a man shot near the Underground
Police have identified a man shot near the Underground Atlanta shopping and entertainment complex in the city's downtown area. Authorities say the suspected gunman ran to Underground Atlanta after firing shots at another man near Peachtree Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Police later identified the victim as at 24-year-old Khiry Clemons.
2:45PM ( 15 hours ago )
Survey says Suwanee residents happier with their city than most
The results of the National Citizen Survey suggest that residents of Suwanee are happier with their city overall than most others across the country.
9:00AM ( 21 hours ago )