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Jobless claims fall sharply to 4-month low

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Fewer people applied for unemployment aid last week, the third drop in four weeks and possible evidence that the job market is showing signs of life.

If the decline continues, it could signal more hiring in the near future. The report comes after the U.S. Labor Department said last week that private employers added the most jobs in six months in October.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that initial claims for jobless aid dropped by 24,000, to a seasonally adjusted 435,000. Many Wall Street economists expected a smaller decrease.

The four-week average of claims, a less volatile measure, fell 10,000, to 446,500. That's the lowest level for the average since the week that ended Sept. 13, 2008, just before the financial crisis intensified with the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Weekly first-time claims are now at their lowest level since early July, when they were temporarily lowered by the July 4 holiday. Last week's figures are the second-lowest this year.

Applications fell partly because the weather has been relatively warm so far this fall, a Labor Department analyst said, and construction and manufacturing firms haven't temporarily laid off as many workers due to cold weather as they have in the past.

Claims have previously dropped sharply this year, but have always bounced back. Applications have fluctuated around 450,000 for most of this year, after falling last year from about 600,000 when the recession ended in June 2009. Economists say claims need to drop below 425,000 to signal a healthy pace of hiring.

Applications for unemployment benefits, while volatile, provide a real-time snapshot of the job market. They are a measure of the pace of layoffs and signal whether companies are adding jobs.

Some companies are hiring new workers, despite the slow economy. US Airways said Monday that it plans to hire 500 flight attendants and pilots next year, mostly to cover planned retirements and attrition. The jobs will initially be offered to former employees laid off during the downturn.

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  • Why it is getting better
    It goes to show that the President's response to the GOP Financial Crisis of 2008 is working. For the GOP somehow thinking that it would be solved overnight was only using it for political leverage in the elections. Their official policy mirrors what they did in 1929 (or didn't do). By the time FDR took over from the republicans, unemployment grew to 20%and was rapidly rising. The president prevented another GOP Depression and unemployment only went to about 10% nationally. It might have been lower in Indiana had the Governor not blocked and redirected the stimulus efforts. Time to wake up and see the facts for what they are.

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  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...

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