US jobless claims jump 16,000 to 357,000

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Job seekers meet with employers at a job fair in Sunrise, Florida in this photo taken in January this year.. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped by 16,000 for the week of ending March 23, 2013, the second straight weekly increase. But the longer-term trend in layoffs remained consistent with an improved job market. Applications increased to a seasonally adjusted 357,000 for the week ending March 23, the Labor Department said Thursday. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped by 16,000 last week, the second straight weekly increase. But the longer-term trend in layoffs remained consistent with an improved job market.

Applications increased to a seasonally adjusted 357,000 for the week ending March 23, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s up from 341,000 the previous week, which was revised slightly higher.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 2,250 to 343,000. Even with the gain, the average is only slightly higher than the previous week’s five-year low of 340,750. Economists pay closer attention to the four-week average because it smooths out week-to-week fluctuations.

First-time applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have been declining steadily since November. At the same time, hiring has accelerated, lowering the unemployment rate in February to a four-year low of 7.7 percent.

Unemployment benefit applications surged during the recession as companies slashed millions of jobs. The number of people seeking aid averaged only 320,000 a week in 2007. That figure soared to 418,000 in 2008 and 574,000 in 2009.

But as layoffs and firings eased, applications for unemployment aid slowly but steadily came down. They fell to 459,000 in 2010, 409,000 in 2011, and 375,000 last year. Through the first 12 weeks of this year they are averaging roughly 353,000.

The total number of people receiving some kind of unemployment aid is also down sharply. Nearly 5.5 million people were receiving unemployment aid as of the week ended March 9, the latest data available. That’s up roughly 87,000 from than the previous week but still well below the 7.2 million from a year earlier. The data on total unemployment benefit recipients are not seasonally adjusted and are volatile.

Hiring is up, too. Employers have added an average of 200,000 jobs per month since November. That’s nearly double the average from last spring. And economists expect similar job gains in March, in part because of the steady decline in layoffs.

The economy has been showing other signs of strength. U.S. home prices rose 8.1 percent in January, the fastest annual rate since the peak of the housing boom in the summer of 2006. And demand for longer-lasting factory goods jumped 5.7 percent in February, most in five months.

Still, the job market and the economy have a long way to go back to full health. The United States has 3 million fewer jobs than it did when the Great Recession began in December 2007. And home prices are down 29 percent from their peak at the height of the housing bubble in August 2006.

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  • Horst Manure

    Be good if they published the real figures instead of the dodgy ones.
    USSA don’t include those who have given up looking and if these ex workers were included the figure is more 22% almost depression numbers.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GYYFBINDMTZHM6TDHPB667452M agustin

    This figure is not alarming, if you compare the jobless figure of PH it is around 5million people jobless.

  • Jesse_Bruce_Pinkman

    People in the USA should stop importing from China.

    The US market accounts for about 68% of all China’s revenues and these motherfúcking chinks think they are the king of the world.

    • Aida Ramos

      That will affect the chance for Obama to borrow more money from China. He would rather gulp shame that he will ultimately leave as a legacy to the Americans than seek solution to the American economy. Trillion dollars trade deficit with China is normal to BHO. Thanks to media and the gullible American voters. You reap what you sow.

    • siegfeil

      Mukhang mahihirapan na ang mga Amerika mapigilan ang China. Sa tingin ko dapat itigil nang U.S. ang job outsourcing. Kaya lang with the high labor cost hindi naman magiging competitive ang U.S. products sa world market.

    • Billy Reyes

      Chinese products are cheap, China is the only Country that buy most of the American Government Bonds… Why?? because they want American economy to afloat so that the American can continue to but their products, in the end it work vice versa.
      But their is one thing which is certain the Roman Empire fall when they continue to expand. Its the same thing what happening in America now more than 100 military base in different countries. Its your foreign policy that will lead you to bankruptcy.

  • pepito gwaps

    Some Americans come to Asia to work and compete with Asian workers to get jobs already. In countries like Japan, Singapore and South Korea this trend is very evident.

    • Crazy_horse101010

      thats because all the people from the catholic countries to the south risk everything trying to get into america and take jobs pay no taxes and clog up the system. every year they die trying to get there.and why are the chinese locking themselves in shipping crates trying to get there. there is a lot more people trying to get into america than out i even know 2 flippinos who are there illegally. they lied on their visas

    • Aida Ramos

      Many come to Asia to teach English but they are poor in spelling and grammar. The only qualification they brag is their being a native speaker.

  • Aida Ramos

    The 7.7% unemployment rate is embellished. Hundred of thousands out there gave up and are not seeking employment anymore and they are not counted in the survey anymore. Slick and slimy.

  • siegfeil

    Sa U.S. kung di ka mapili sa trabaho 100% kang magkakatrabaho. Kahit nga TNT nagkakakaroon nang trabaho.

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