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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. Really, taking someone managing the regulation of Alcohol and making himthe President of an IVY Tech regional campus. Does he have an education background?

  2. Jan, great rant. Now how about you review the report and offer rebuttal of the memo. This might be more conducive to civil discourse than a wild rant with no supporting facts. Perhaps some links to support your assertions would be helpful

  3. I've lived in Indianapolis my whole and been to the track 3 times. Once for a Brickyard, once last year on a practice day for Indy 500, and once when I was a high school student to pick up trash for community service. In the past 11 years, I would say while the IMS is a great venue, there are some upgrades that would show that it's changing with the times, just like the city is. First, take out the bleachers and put in individual seats. Kentucky Motor Speedway has individual seats and they look cool. Fix up the restrooms. Add wi-fi. Like others have suggested, look at bringing in concerts leading up to events. Don't just stick with the country music genre. Pop music would work well too I believe. This will attract more young celebrities to the Indy 500 like the kind that go to the Kentucky Derby. Work with Indy Go to increase the frequency of the bus route to the track during high end events. That way people have other options than worrying about where to park and paying for parking. Then after all of this, look at getting night lights. I think the aforementioned strategies are more necessary than night racing at this point in time.

  4. Talking about congestion ANYWHERE in Indianapolis is absolutely laughable. Sure you may have to wait in 5 minutes of traffic to travel down BR avenue during *peak* times. But that is absolutely nothing compared to actual big cities. Indy is way too suburban to have actual congestion problems. So please, never bring up "congestion" as an excuse to avoid development in Indianapolis. If anything, we could use a little more.

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