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U.S. claims for unemployment benefits rise modestly

Associated Press
May 30, 2013
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The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 354,000, above analysts' expectations. Still, the level of applications is consistent with some hiring and remains near a five-year low.

The Labor Department said the four-week average, a less volatile measure, inched up 6,750, to 347,250, a third straight increase.

Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. Earlier this month, they fell to 338,000, the fewest in any week since 2008.

The decline in applications for unemployment aid has coincided with more hiring. In the past six months, employers have added an average of 208,000 jobs a month. That's up from an average of only 138,000 in the previous six months.

The unemployment rate has fallen to a four-year low of 7.5 percent, down from 10 percent in October 2009. The drop in unemployment has occurred, in part, because many people have given up looking for work. The government counts people as unemployed only if they are actively searching for a job.

"We can't make too many inferences from one week's results but the trend, overall, still points to improving labor markets," said Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Five states were unable to report complete data to the Labor Department, a spokesman said, because of the Memorial Day holiday earlier this week. The department estimated figures for those five states. That could mean that last week's figure will be revised more than usual next week when the final data is received.

Nearly 4.6 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits the week that ended May 11, the latest data available. That's down 25 percent from 6.1 million a year earlier.

A separate report Thursday showed that the economy expanded at a 2.4-percent annual pace in the first three months of the year. That was slightly below an earlier estimate of 2.5 percent, but much better than the 0.4% pace in the final three months of last year.

Economists expect growth will slow to about 2 percent in the current quarter, as businesses and consumers adjust to tax increases that took effect at the beginning of the year and federal government spending cuts that kicked in March 1.

Two reports this week suggested that the economy is still expanding at a steady pace. Home prices are surging and consumers are more confident. Both trends could encourage more spending in the coming months, providing crucial support for growth.

Consumer confidence jumped in May to the highest level in five years, the Conference Board said Tuesday. Soaring stock prices and Americans' brighter outlook on the job market helped drive the gain.

Home prices jumped nearly 11 percent in March from a year earlier, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index, also released Tuesday. That is the biggest gain in seven years.

Higher prices increase homeowners' net worth, which makes them more likely to spend. They can also sustain the housing recovery, by encouraging more would-be buyers to purchase homes before prices rise further.

More buyers are bidding on a tight supply of homes. That's encouraged builders to step up construction, which creates more jobs. Applications for building permits rose to the highest level in five years in April.

The brightening economic picture has raised speculation that the Federal Reserve would dial back its $85 billion a month bond-buying program. The purchases are intended to lower long-term interest rates and encourage more borrowing and spending.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress last week that it was too early to wind down the program. Fed policymakers have said they will continue the purchases until there is substantial improvement in employment.
 

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  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

  2. Great news IRL fans: TURBO the IMS sanctioned movie about slugs running the Indy 500 has caught the Securities and Exchange Commission because Dreamworks had to take a $132MILLION write down...because the movie was such a flop. See, the Indy/IMS magic soiled another pair of drawers. Bwahahahahahaha! How's CARTOWN doing? HAHAHAHA...Indy is for losers.

  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

  4. I read the retail roundup article and tried Burritos and Beers tonight. I'm glad I did, for the food was great. Fresh authentic Mexican food. Great seasoning on the carne asada. A must try!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

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