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U.S. unemployment claims hit four-month high

Associated Press
October 18, 2012
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Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped 46,000 last week, to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the highest in four months. The increase marks a big rebound from the previous week's sharp drop. Both swings were largely due to technical factors.

The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose slightly to 365,500, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's still a level consistent with very modest hiring.

A department spokesman said the last two weeks' figures were distorted by seasonal adjustments the department makes.

Normally, many applicants delay filing for benefits until the start of a quarter because doing so can produce larger checks. It turns out that California didn't experience the expected jump in applications until the second week of this quarter. That shift had the effect of sharply lowering the seasonally adjusted number two weeks ago and sharply boosting it last week.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When they consistently fall below 375,000, it suggests hiring is healthy enough to lower the unemployment rate.

Several economists simply calculated the average of the two distorted weeks, which is 365,000. That's in line with the recent trend. But it's modestly improved from September, suggesting that hiring could be a bit better this month.

"Though still struggling, the U.S. labor market appears to be making headway, and we should see a modest improvement in October ... payrolls," Sal Guatieri, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said in an email to clients.

The number of people receiving benefits fell. Just over 5 million people received unemployment aid in the week ending Sept. 29, the latest data available. That was about 40,000 fewer than the previous week.

Some recent reports suggest the economy is picking up. Retail sales grew in September at a healthy clip. And builders started construction on new homes and apartments last month at the fastest pace in more than four years.

Still, the economy is not growing fast enough to generate much hiring. Growth slowed to a tepid annual rate of 1.3 percent in the April-June quarter, down from 2 percent in the previous quarter. Most economists see growth staying at or below 2 percent in the second half of the year.

The unemployment rate fell in September to 7.8 percent, the lowest level since January 2009, the department said earlier this month. It fell because a government survey of households found a huge increase in the number of people who had jobs. A jump in part-time employment accounted for most of the gain.

Employers, meanwhile, added 114,000 jobs in September, according to a separate survey of businesses. Hiring in July and August was also revised much higher.

As a result, the economy gained an average of 146,000 jobs a month in the July-September quarter. That's more than double the monthly pace in the April-June quarter.

Even so, hiring must be stronger to bring relief to the more than 12 million people who are unemployed. Roughly 100,000 new jobs are needed each month just to keep up with the working-age population.

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  • Lefty Lies
    Why does our socialist president want to keep telling everyone that the economy is getting better? Construction is up???How could it not be from where it has been. retail sales are up????School started again, and Christmas is around the corner. These are not signs of growth, nor are they signs that our economy is improving. Nobama has failed. He lied about gas prices. He lied about Libya, he lied about oil drilling. This administration is a complete failure and needs to go!! The media needs to stop "candy coating" the economy, and defending this bafoon we have in office. If they would report the actual news rather than their biased opinions the polls would not be close. Nobama could not creat a job in it came up to him and pulled on one of his ears. I have to mention that it was pretty classless for Michelle Nobama, the one that hates her country, to applaud so blatently when her husband lied during the discussion on Libya, and the liberal moderator defended his lies. Maybe she should spend more of our tax payer dollars on learning how to act instead of going on so many vacations.

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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.

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  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?

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