Monday November 30th, 2015 10:58PM

Applications for UI aid fall to 319K

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment insurance (UI) benefits fell 26,000 last week to 319,000, the latest sign that the job market is slowly improving.

The drop follows two weeks of increases that reflected mostly temporary layoffs around the Easter holiday. The holiday can cause an uptick in layoffs of bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other school workers during spring break. Those earlier increases caused the four-week average of applications, a less volatile number, to rise 4,500 to a seasonally adjusted 324,750.

With the impact of the holiday fading, applications are returning to pre-recession levels. The average fell in early April to 312,000, the fewest since October 2007. The recession officially began in December 2007.

"Through the volatility, the data remain encouraging," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

The four-week average of applications is down from an average of 343,000 for all of last year, O'Sullivan noted. That is "consistent with the pick-up in employment growth" that's taken place this year, he added. Monthly job gains have averaged 214,000 from January through April, up from 194,000 in 2013.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, and so the decline suggests that companies are cutting fewer jobs. That trend is typically followed by more hiring, though the relationship is not always exact.

About 2.69 million people are receiving benefits, 76,000 fewer than in the previous week. That figure has fallen nearly 11 percent in the past year. An additional 1.3 million people lost benefits when an emergency program that had provided up to 47 extra weeks of aid expired at the end of 2013.

Employers have stepped up hiring in recent months. The economy gained 288,000 jobs in April, the most in 2 1/2 years, the government said last week.

In addition, the unemployment rate plunged to 6.3 percent from 6.7 percent. But that drop occurred because fewer people looked for work. The government doesn't count people as unemployed unless they are actively searching.

The improved hiring should help boost economic growth for the rest of this year.

The economy barely expanded in the first three months of the year, growing at an annual rate of just 0.1 percent. That was largely because a brutal winter kept consumers away from shopping malls, shut down factories and discouraged home and car sales.

But many signs suggest that the economy has rebounded since then as the weather has warmed. Most analysts estimate that the economy is growing at a healthy annual pace of about 3.5 percent in the current April-June quarter.

© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 11 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 11 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 10 months ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 10 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 11 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 10 months ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 10 months ago )
Local/State News
White House offers governors info on refugees in their states after Syrian migrants uproar
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is proposing to offer governors individualized reports about refugees in their states.White House chief of staff Denis McDonough says in letters to all 50 governors t...
9:08PM ( 1 hour ago )
Longtime Habersham County Clerk of Court Ernest Nations to be remembered
Longtime former Habersham County Clerk of Court Ernest Nations Jr. died Sunday, Nov. 29, following an extended illness.
3:52PM ( 7 hours ago )
Hall deputies arrest Nov. 21 chase suspect
A Gainesville man wanted for allegedly sideswiping a patrol car on Highway 365 a week ago was arrested over the weekend.
3:06PM ( 7 hours ago )
Man struck by car, killed on Athens Hwy. south of Gainesville
Charges are pending in a weekend accident that killed a pedestrian on Athens Highway.
1:34PM ( 9 hours ago )
Georgia's Mark Richt not done coaching, will listen to anyone interested in giving him a job
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Mark Richt remains interested in another coaching job and said Monday he will listen "to anybody who has interest in me" as he prepares for his final game as Georgia's coach.Georgia...
1:10PM ( 9 hours ago )