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U.S. unemployment aid applications hit 10-week low

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The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell by 24,000 last week, to a seasonally adjusted 334,000. The drop left unemployment benefit applications at their lowest level in 10 weeks, the Labor Department said Thursday.

While some of the decline may have been caused by seasonal factors, the broader trend has been favorable. The four-week average, which smooths out fluctuations, fell 5,250, to 351,000.

‘‘We believe labor market conditions remain on a gradually improving trajectory,’’ said Laura Rosner, an economist at BNP Paribas.

Weekly applications data can be volatile in July. Automakers typically shut their factories in the first two weeks of the month to prepare for new models, which leads to a temporary spike in layoffs. But this year much of the industry has skipped or shortened the shutdowns to keep up with stronger demand.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have declined 5 percent since January. The drop has coincided with stronger job growth.

Employers added an average of 202,000 jobs a month through the first six months of the year, up from an average of 180,000 in the previous six months.

In June, they added 195,000 jobs, and revisions showed 70,000 more jobs were added in April and May. The unemployment rate stayed at 7.6 percent last month but is down from 8.2 percent a year earlier.

Despite the gains in hiring, economic growth has been weak and many more people are working part-time jobs because full-time unemployment is unavailable. Most economists expect growth slowed in the April-June quarter to an annual rate of 1 percent or less, down from a tepid 1.8 percent rate at the start of the year. That would mark the third straight quarter of growth below 2 percent.

Many economists are hopeful that steady hiring will help spur faster growth in the second half of the year.

More than 4.5 million people received unemployment aid in the week ending June 29, the latest data available. That’s down just 1,900 from the previous week. The number of recipients has fallen 21 percent in the past year.

Recent reports have painted a mixed picture of the economy. Americans bought more cars, clothes and furniture in June, but cut back retail spending almost everywhere else. Excluding purchases in the volatile categories of autos, gas and building materials, retail sales rose at the slowest pace since January.

Meanwhile, factory output grew in June for the second straight month, a separate Fed report said, a sign manufacturers are recovering from a slow start to the year.

More hiring could help the economy grow faster later this year by increasing the number of Americans earning paychecks. That could fuel more consumer spending and overall growth.
 

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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

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