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Weekly U.S. unemployment claims remain high

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The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell only slightly last week, to a seasonally adjusted 382,000. The level suggests hiring remains weak.

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications declined by 3,000 from the previous week, which was revised up. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose for the fifth straight week, to 377,750, the highest level in nearly three months.

Applications were skewed higher two weeks ago by the fallout from Hurricane Isaac. But a Labor Department spokesman said there were no special factors last week.

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

Employers added only 96,000 jobs last month, below the 141,000 in July and much lower than the average 226,000 added in the first three months of the year. Recent job gains are barely enough to keep up with the growth of the working age population and aren't enough to rapidly drive down unemployment.

"Businesses clearly remain reluctant to aggressively boost their workforces," said Jim Baird, chief investment strategist at Plante Moran Financial Advisors, in a note to clients.

The unemployment rate dropped in August, to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent. But that was only because fewer people were looking for work. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively looking for work.

The number of people receiving unemployment aid fell sharply earlier this month. About 5.2 million people received benefits the week ending Sept. 1, the most recent data available. That's a drop of about 220,000 from the previous week.

The economy isn't growing fast enough to support much more hiring. It grew at a tepid 1.7-percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, down from 2 percent in the January-March quarter and 4.1 percent in the final three months of last year.

Growth isn't likely to get much better for the rest of this year. Economists expect the economy to grow at a roughly 2-percent pace.

High unemployment and sluggish growth prompted the Federal Reserve last week to announce several major steps to attempt to boost the economy. Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed will buy $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities a month until there is "substantial" improvement in the job market.

Bernanke said at a news conference that high unemployment is "a grave concern" that causes "enormous suffering."

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  • really??
    and there are people out there who are still going to vote Obama???? the guy isn't getting it done! And now we have Bernanke basically saying the TARP hasn't created jobs so now we're just going to keep spending and if the first 40 billion doesn't work...we'll just keep buying until it does. This frustrates the daylights out of me how people can look at the last four years and think that Obama is better than a guy who has experience turning around companies. Forget the likeability factor people. We're electing someone to turn the economy around. not someone who makes promises on Letterman. Has anyone ever been employed by someone who was poor? yet for some reason Obama supporters think that taking business owners money will help the poor and create jobs? The whole idea that Obama helps the poor and Romney is for the rich is fabricated by a liberal media.

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  1. We gotta stop this Senior crime. Perhaps long jail terms for these old boozers is in order. There are times these days (more rather than less) when this state makes me sick.

  2. One option is to redistribute the payroll tax already collected by the State. A greater share could be allocated to the county of the workplace location as opposed to the county of residency. Not a new tax, just re-allocate what is currently collected.

  3. Have to agree with Mal Burgess. The biggest problem is massive family breakdown in these neighborhoods. While there are a lot of similiarities, there is a MASSIVE difference between 46218 and 46219. 46219 is diluted by some stable areas, and that's probably where the officers live. Incentivizing is fine, but don't criticize officers for choosing not to live in these neighbor hoods. They have to have a break from what is arguably one of the highest stress job in the land. And you'll have to give me hard evidence that putting officers there is going to make a significant difference. Solid family units, responsible fathers, siblings with the same fathers, engaged parents, commitment to education, respect for the rule of law and the importance of work/a job. If the families and the schools (and society) will support these, THEN we can make a difference.

  4. @Agreed, when you dine in Marion County, the taxes paid on that meal go to state coffers (in the form of the normal sales taxes) and to the sports/entertainment venues operated by the CIB. The sales taxes on your clothing and supplies just go to the state. The ONLY way those purchases help out Indianapolis is through the payroll taxes paid by the (generally low-wage) hourly workers serving you.

  5. The government leaders of Carmel wouldn't last a week trying to manage Indianapolis. There's a major difference between running a suburb with virtually no one below the poverty level and running a city in which 21+% are below the poverty level. (http://www.census.gov/did/www/saipe/data/interactive/#view=StateAndCounty&utilBtn=&yLB=0&stLB=15&cLB=49&dLB=0&gLB=0&usSts_cbSelected=false&usTot_cbSelected=true&stateTot_cbSelected=true&pLB=0?ltiYearSelected=false?ltiYearAlertFlag=false?StateFlag=false?validSDYearsFlag=false)

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