U.S. jobless claims drop to 316,000, as layoffs slow
WASHINGTON — 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. The first-time weekly jobless claims and the average have returned to prerecession 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 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.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Wal-Mart ups ante on holiday shopping
- Electric cars plug into solar power
- Pump prices: How low can you go? Below $3
- Health insurers’ move towardd ‘high-value’ care providers may reduce choice
- US consumer spending down 0.2 percent in September
- Pittsburgh-area stocks triumph over a volatile October
- Mark Phelan: Detroit 3 need to fix their troubled small cars
- ‘Airbender’ bent rules of Pa. film tax credit
- Under the Hood: Vibration problem needs 2nd set of eyes
- Wall Street caps a wild month with a rally
- Coal official: Number of W.Va. mining sites falls to 96