mostlycloudy
Saturday August 1st, 2015 5:51AM

Jobless claims drop to 316,000, as layoffs slow

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 316,000, a sign that workers are in less danger of being laid off.

The less volatile four-week average fell 7,500 to 331,750, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Both the first-time weekly jobless claims and the average have returned to pre-recession levels.

Unemployment benefit applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have fallen in six of the past seven weeks.

A government spokesman said there were no special factors that drove claims lower but cautioned that it can be difficult to seasonally adjust in late November because the Thanksgiving holiday occurs at different times each year. This year Thanksgiving is a week later than last year.

Still, the broader trend has been encouraging. As layoffs have dwindled, hiring has picked up. Employers added 204,000 jobs last month, indicating that companies were undeterred by the 16-day government shutdown. Private businesses added 212,000 new positions, the most since February.

"If claims can trend at anything like this level through the inevitable noise of Thanksgiving and then the holiday season, that would mark a real improvement on the pre-shutdown period and would be consistent with stronger payroll growth," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a client note.

The economy has added an average of 202,000 jobs a month from August through October, up from 146,000 in May through July.

The total number Americans claiming unemployment benefits through the first full week of November was 3.9 million, down from 5.2 million a year ago.

Greater employment typically boosts income, which helps drive more economic growth. Consumers' spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of economic activity.

Still, the unemployment rate remains high at 7.3 percent. That's well above the 5 percent to 6 percent unemployment rate consistent with healthier job markets. When unemployment is lower, workers have more flexibility to change jobs.

Job growth is a major factor for the Federal Reserve in deciding when to reduce its economic stimulus. The Fed has been buying $85 billion in bonds each month to keep long-term interest rates low and encourage borrowing and spending.
© Copyright 2015 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.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 ( 1 year 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 ( 1 year 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 ( 1 year 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 ( 1 year 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 ( 1 year 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 ( 1 year 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 ( 1 year 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 ( 1 year 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 ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Judge blocks release of recordings by anti-abortion group
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge on Friday blocked the release of any recordings made at meetings of an abortion providers' association by an anti-abortion group that previously revealed secretly...
10:50PM ( 7 hours ago )
Dozens of Clinton emails censored for security reasons
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dozens of emails that traversed Hillary Clinton's private, unsecure home server contain national security information now deemed too sensitive to make public, according to the latest...
5:54PM ( 11 hours ago )
Not guilty plea in federal court for church shooting suspect
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The white man accused of gunning down nine parishioners at a black church in Charleston wants to plead guilty to 33 federal charges, but his lawyer said in court Friday that he...
2:30PM ( 15 hours ago )
Back to Beijing for 2nd Olympics in 14 years
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Throughout more than 120 years of Olympic history, no city has hosted both the winter and summer games. Now, Beijing will be the first do it — and in the span of just 14...
10:11AM ( 19 hours ago )
US paychecks grow at record-slow pace in 2nd quarter
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. wages and benefits grew in the spring at the slowest pace in 33 years, stark evidence that stronger hiring isn't lifting paychecks much for most Americans. The slowdown also lik...
9:19AM ( 20 hours ago )