U.S. unemployment benefit applications fall to 330,000

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 330,000, signaling fewer layoffs and steady job growth.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average dropped 9,750 to 349,000.

A Labor spokesman said there was no indication that snow and freezing weather around much of the country caused the drop in applications. The number of applications could fluctuate in the coming weeks because of harsh winter weather that closed some offices this week and last, said Yelena Shulyatyeva, a U.S. economist at the bank BNP Paribas.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They appear to have stabilized near pre-recession levels after a period of volatility around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. That suggests recent job gains will continue. Continue reading "U.S. unemployment benefit applications fall to 330,000"

Unemployment Benefit Applications Rise

U.S. unemployment benefit applications rose 16,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 360,000, although the level remains consistent with steady hiring.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average increased 6,000 to 351,750.

The weekly applications data can be volatile in July because some automakers briefly shut down their factories to prepare for new models and many schools close. Those factors can create a temporary spike in layoffs.

The broader trend has been favorable. Applications have declined steadily in the past year, as companies have laid off fewer workers and stepped up hiring. In the past six months, employers have added an average of 202,000 jobs a month. That's up from an average of 180,000 in the previous six months. Continue reading "Unemployment Benefit Applications Rise"