mostlycloudy
Saturday February 6th, 2016 6:33PM

Unemployment benefit applications drop to 323K

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits fell 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000 last week, the lowest since late September.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average fell for the third straight week to 338,500. Both figures are near pre-recession levels.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They had spiked in early October because of the partial government shutdown and processing backlogs in California. But first-time applications have now fallen in five of the past six weeks. The decline indicates that employers are laying off fewer workers.

"If claims can remain at this week's level it would be easier to believe in the idea that ... payroll growth could break out to the upside," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The steady declines suggest hiring will remain healthy in the coming months. Employers added 204,000 jobs in October, shrugging off the 16-day shutdown.

Job growth accelerated over the summer. 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 solid gains should help boost economic growth next year. Greater hiring, combined with modest increases in pay, appears to be supporting more spending. Higher retail spending last month has raised hopes that the holiday shopping season will be better than many analysts expected.

Still, the economy is far from healthy. More than four years after the recession officially ended, the unemployment rate remains high at 7.3 percent.

And nearly 3.9 million people received benefits during the week ended Nov. 2, the latest data available. That's down about 33,000 from the previous week. That total has fallen 26 percent in the past year. Many of the former recipients have likely found jobs. But most have likely used up all the benefits available to them

The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring the job market in deciding when to reduce its economic stimulus. The Fed has been buying bonds to keep long-term interest rates low and encourage more borrowing and spending.
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 2 years ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 2 years ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 2 years ago )
Amtrak to suspend some Crescent service in Jan., Feb.
Amtrak service will shut down in parts of the Southeast for several days in January and February for rail maintenance by Norfolk Southern Railway.
9:00AM ( 2 years ago )
Lung cancer scans urged for some smokers, not all
Certain current or former heavy smokers should start getting yearly scans for lung cancer to cut their risk of death from the nation's top cancer killer, government advisers said Monday - even as they stressed that the tests aren't for everyone.
7:26AM ( 2 years ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 2 years ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 2 years ago )
NSA reportedly intercepts computer deliveries
A German magazine has lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency's hacker unit, revealing how American spies intercepted computer deliveries, exploited hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijacked Microsoft's bug report system to spy on their targets.
12:31PM ( 2 years ago )
Rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel
Rockets from Lebanon struck northern Israel on Sunday, causing no injuries but sparking an Israeli reprisal shelling in a rare flare-up between the two countries.
12:26PM ( 2 years ago )
Politics
More than 20 people arrested by Georgia, Tennessee authorities on sex-related charges
Authorities say more than 20 people have been arrested on charges related to sex trafficking and online exploitation of children in Tennessee and Georgia.
By The Associated Press
6:00PM ( 33 minutes ago )
Hall County plans discussion of South Hall traffic signals, maintenance of I-985 exits
Discussions involving the need for more traffic signals in the South Hall area and the maintenance of exits along I-985 in that part of the county are planned by the county commission Monday.
3:00PM ( 3 hours ago )
Labor department, VA team up for employment workshops for veterans
State labor officials are teaming up later this month with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on a couple of employment workshops in north Georgia designed specifically for veterans.
12:01PM ( 6 hours ago )
Neighborhood watch program partners with Hall County Sheriff's Office
​Hall County authorities have partnered with a neighborhood watch website to increase efforts in county neighborhoods.
10:02AM ( 8 hours ago )
East Hall home destroyed by early morning fire, residents evaluated for smoke inhalation
Two people suffered what appeared to be minor smoke inhalation when their mobile home was destroyed in the eastern part of Hall County early Saturday morning.
8:40AM ( 9 hours ago )