In its weekly update on jobs, the Labor Department said that applications for unemployment benefits fell by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 382,000 for the week ended September 15, 2012. Economists were calling for a drop to 375,000. Continuing claims – or the number of people that are already receiving benefits – decreased by 32,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.27 million for the week ended September 8.
There was also no sign the strike by about 29,000 teachers in Chicago had an impact, according to the Labor Department.
Jobless claims for the week prior were upwardly revised to 385,000 from the original reading of 382,000. The hike was largely a result of Hurricane Isaac which swept through the South at that time, causing businesses to temporarily shutter their operations.
Hitting their highest level since June, new claims in the past month grew by 2,000 to 377,750. The less-volatile four week average is generally viewed as a better measure of the health of the jobs market. The latest reading is the fifth consecutive weekly increase.
About 5.17 million people received some kind of state or federal benefit in the week ended Sept. 1, down 217,823 from the prior week. Total claims are reported with a two-week lag.
The labor market is continuing its stubborn trend against growth that has held the unemployment rate in the States above 8 percent for three years. This is the first time since the Great Depression of the 1930’s that unemployment has sustained the high level. In part, it is this leaden jobs expansion that prompted the Federal Reserve to launch another version of bond buying, or so-called quantitative easing, last week where the central bank initiated an open-ended program buying $40 billion per month of mortgage backed securities and continuing its Operation Twist program to try and spark the sluggish labor trend.
By Andrew Klips
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