clear
Wednesday May 25th, 2016 7:06PM

UI claims drop last week; 4th quarter economic growth weakest in 2 years

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell 22,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 344,000, evidence that the job market may be picking up. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy grew at a rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, the weakest showing in nearly two years.

The four-week average of applications dropped 6,750 to 355,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was the first drop in three weeks.

Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. When they decline, it suggests companies are cutting fewer workers and may be more willing to hire.

The four-week average has steadily declined since November. Since then, it has fallen almost 11 percent. At the same time, employers have added an average of 200,000 jobs per month from November through January. That's up from about 150,000 in the previous three months.

In January, the economy added 157,000 jobs. The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in December. Economists think the rate will slowly decline if hiring continues at last year's monthly pace of 180,000. The unemployment rate fell 0.7 percentage point in 2012.

The outlook for the U.S. economy brightened this week after reports showed that Americans are more confident and are buying more new homes. Home prices are also rising steadily, and banks are lending more. Such improvements suggest that the economy is resilient enough to withstand automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to kick in Friday.

The spending cuts could slow economic growth and cost 700,000 jobs, according to the Congressional Budget Office. They could also reduce unemployment benefit checks for those out of work for more than six months by about 11 percent, according to the National Employment Law Project. Benefits average about $320 per week nationwide.

ECONOMIC GROWTH

The U.S. economy grew at a 0.1 percent annual rate from October through December, the weakest performance in nearly two years.

The Commerce Department's revision to fourth-quarter growth was only slightly better than its initial estimate that the economy shrank at a rate of 0.1 percent.

The upward revision reflected strength in exports and business investment. Analysts believe growth is rebounding in the current quarter despite higher taxes and government spending cuts set to start on Friday. A steady rebound in housing and solid business and consumer spending is expected to push growth higher in the current quarter.
© 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
NTSB releases likely cause of fatal Gainesville plane crash in 2014
It was likely a loss of engine power caused by an undetected valve blockage that brought down a small plane, killing two people on board on Oct. 16, 2014.
4:19PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: 11 states sue over federal transgender directive
Texas and 10 other states are suing the Obama administration over new federal guidance for transgender students in public schools
2:54PM ( 4 hours ago )
UPDATE: Hunter finds human skull near Auburn; search for bones underway
​Sheriff's officials in Gwinnett County said they're searching an area near the town of Auburn for bones after a hunter found a skull.
1:00PM ( 6 hours ago )
Suwanee refinances bonds, saves $3 million
The Suwanee city council approved the refinancing of the city's open space bonds at their meeting Tuesday evening, a measure that will save the city $3 million.
12:22PM ( 6 hours ago )
Trump, Clinton win Washington state's presidential primaries
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump each won primaries in Washington state Tuesday
7:49AM ( 11 hours ago )