U.S. jobless claims in decline

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. 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.

More in Herald Business Journal

Happy accident leads Edmonds couple to make Hunniwater drink

The latest line of energy drinks by Karin and Eric… Continue reading

Single payer is no panacea for our costly health care system

We must address the cost of health care before designing an insurance system.

Voters are on the sidelines as the port fills a vacant seat

Troy McClelland resigned from the Port of Everett commission too late for an election before 2019.

Career Fair planned next week at Tulalip Resort Casino

The Snohomish County Career Fair is planned from 10 a.m. to 2… Continue reading

American Farmland Trust president to speak in Mount Vernon

American Farmland Trust President John Piotti plans to give a talk about… Continue reading

In new setback, Uber to lose license to work in London

The company, beset by litany of scandals, was told it was not “fit and proper” to keep operating there.

Not home? Walmart wants to walk in and stock your fridge

The retailer is trying out the service with tech-savvy shoppers who have internet-connected locks.

Trade panel: Cheap imports hurt US solar industry

The ruling raises the possibility of tariffs that could double the price of solar panels.

Agent joins Re/Max in Smokey Point

Dennis Roland joined the Re/Max Elite Smokey Point office. The Navy veteran… Continue reading

Most Read