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U.S. unemployment claims continue to slide

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The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, near the lowest level since June 2008. The figure shows employers are laying off fewer workers, an encouraging sign one day before the government plans to issue its August jobs report.

Weekly applications are just 1,000 above a five-year low reached last month, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four week average, a less volatile measure, declined 3,000, to 328,500. That's the lowest point since October 2007.

Economists forecast that the August jobs report will show employers added 177,000 jobs, up from 162,000 in July. The unemployment rate is expected to remain 7.4 percent.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have fallen 5 percent in the past two months, raising hopes that hiring could pick up.

Still, the unemployment rate is well above the 5 percent to 6 percent range associated with a normal economy. And most of the improvement in the job market has occurred because layoffs have fallen. Hiring, by contrast, remains modest. Fewer layoffs can boost net job growth even when businesses aren't filling many job openings.

Nearly 4.4 million Americans received unemployment benefits in the week that ended Aug. 17, the latest period for which figures are available. That's about 70,000 fewer than the previous week. A year ago, 5.5 million Americans were receiving benefits.

About 80 percent of the jobs created this year have been lower-paying, part-time positions in industries such as hotels, restaurants and retail. Higher-paying industries such as manufacturing and construction have mostly shed jobs since spring.

But some signs indicate that hiring in both industries could pick up. A private survey released Tuesday showed that factory activity grew last month at the fastest pace in more than two years. And manufacturers added jobs, though at a slower pace than in the previous month.

Spending on U.S. construction projects, meanwhile, rose to its highest level in more than four years in July. It was spurred by strength in both housing and commercial building.

The economy expanded at a 2.5-percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, a modest pace but much faster than the 1.1-percent annual rate in the first three months of the year. Home construction and business investment spending were two key drivers of growth.

Many economists think growth is slowing to about a 2-percent annual rate in the current July-September quarter.

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

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