Job fairWith the latest weekly initial jobless claims declining 6,000 to 472,000, the U.S. labor market has eked out some modest improvement. Continuing claims also decreased, by 23,000, to 4.46 million, and the less-volatile and more-telling four-week moving average fell by 2,500 to 485,500. A Bloomberg survey had expected initial jobless claims to dip a bit more, to 470,000.

Putting the week's improvement into perspective, jobless claims need to drop below 400,000 during the next two quarters to give economists and investors confidence that commercial activity is increasing at a pace that prompts most companies to curtail layoffs and resume hiring. However, the picture is far less gruesome than it was a year ago, when initial claims totaled 568,000, the four-week moving average was 566,750 and continuing claims totaled 6.11 million.

Separately, the Monster (MWW) Employment Index dipped 2 points to 136 in August -- its second straight monthly decline, Monster announced Thursday. Monster noted that the dip in August was "possibly due to moderation in underlying job market drivers." The index, which measures employers' intentions to hire, is still up 12% -- or 16 points -- compared to a year ago. Monster said all 28 metro areas it tracks showed a year-over-year increase in jobs posted online.

Unit Labor Costs Tick Up 1.1%

The Labor Department also reported that U.S. worker productivity fell 1.8% in the second quarter, a downward revision from the initially released 0.9% decline. It marks the first decline in productivity in eight quarters. In addition, unit labor costs rose 1.1% in the quarter. A Bloomberg survey had expected productivity to drop 1.9% and unit labor costs to rise 1.2%.

On the jobless front, states reported 4.55 million people claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending Aug. 14, the latest period for which data is available, an increase of 281,676 from the prior week. A year ago, 3.08 million people were claiming EUC benefits.


The highest insured unemployment rates for the week ending Aug. 14 were in Puerto Rico, at 6.9%; Pennsylvania, 4.8%; New Jersey, 4.6%; Oregon, 4.5%, and Alaska, 4.4%.

This week's jobless claims report represents a qualified ray of light for the U.S. economy. After a rise that was boosted by seasonal layoffs, jobless claims are now going in the right direction again. But they're not going down fast enough.

And after an impressive nearly two-year stretch of productivity gains, that measure slippage may seem like a sour note, but it will likely help decrease jobless roles. Most economists believe companies have trimmed payrolls and increased productivity about as much as they could, given current operations. In order to increase output or deploy new projects,they'll now have to start hiring, much to the economy's benefit.

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bjhdkh

I sure hope those are real numbers and not just people who have dropped off on the claims list because their time with unemployement claims ran out.

September 06 2010 at 3:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
terpmarty

many people refer to this summer as "The summer of recevery". I refer to it as "There is no receovery"

September 05 2010 at 8:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
gmydogbud

President Clinton, who has more money than he knows what to do with, saw to it that our Social Security is taxed. What a Guy! Thank you DEMOCRAT Party!!

September 05 2010 at 7:52 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
nccnebula

Did they go back to work ... or did the benefits just run out. Are we looking at potentially another 6000 homeless?

September 05 2010 at 7:41 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
gmydogbud

Neither Party works for Middle Class Americans. Both Parties work for Illegal Aliens, Anchor Babies, Acorn, Big Banks, Big Business, Wall Street, Other Countries and Lobbyists. They send money to other countries to build and rebuild Mosques. We need a Middle Class Party and Lobbyists for the Middle Class. That is the only way Middle Class American Citizens will have representation!

September 05 2010 at 7:36 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
andrc657

People who make well in excess of $250,000 a year are very happy to get more huge tax cuts. But most people feel that if we are going to run up more deficits by giving tax cuts at least give them to middle and lower income folks who REALLY need the extra money.

September 05 2010 at 7:19 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to andrc657's comment
travelcind

Regarding the reduction in unemployment claims this week. Of course it would go down. It will go down again this week. Probably went down last year proportionately as well. HELLOOOOOOO.............. All the people laid off for the summer dealing with education are back to work. How many school bus drivers are there out there? Laid off support workers in our nations schools going back to work.

September 05 2010 at 7:07 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
quincymeese

Enough with the "Huge tax cuts for the rich". It seems to me that the only people that are spouting this line have to be some type of government employee with no idea of how the private sector works. The "Rich" are the ones that provide employment, whether it be from their buisness/company or the spending of their profits. Also, how can "Tax Cuts" cause debt? A tax cut just means less money going to the government, the government is not haveing to borrow money for a tax cut. Less taxes = increased money to everyone = increased spending = increased jobs, pretty simple to someone living in the real world.

September 05 2010 at 7:05 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
Frankie

Republicans = Rax cuts for the top 2%. Yeah, right. Thats what helped gewt us into this mess to begin with. Voting is like driving a car. Choose (R) to move Backward Choose (D) to move Forward

September 05 2010 at 7:00 PM Report abuse -9 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Frankie's comment
whatsgoodforyou

When it comes to the future of our nation, Choose (D) to Destroy, Deceive, Decimate, choose (R) to Rebuild, Renew, Restore!

September 05 2010 at 7:35 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Frankie

You republicans are a joke. Don't you even realize how idiotic you look?

September 05 2010 at 6:56 PM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Frankie's comment
whatsgoodforyou

Now there's an intelligent, well-thought out comment. You just brought the same question back upon yourself!

September 05 2010 at 7:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply