Unemployment Claims Hit Lowest Level in Three Years

Job fair in CaliforniaThe number of people applying for unemployment benefits plunged last week to the lowest level in nearly three years, boosting hopes that companies will step up hiring this year as the economy strengthens.

Applications sank by a seasonally adjusted 36,000 to 383,000, the lowest point since early July 2008, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Unemployment applications reflect the level of layoffs, but also can indicate whether companies are willing to hire.

Applications are well below their peak of 651,000, reached in March 2009, when the economy was deep in recession. Applications below 425,000 tend to signal modest job growth. But they would need to dip consistently to 375,000 or below to indicate a significant and steady decline in the unemployment rate.

Last week's sharp decline continues a downward trend that took shape late last year. The last time applications fell below 400,000 was near the end of December.

Harsh winter snowstorms along in the Southeast forced some companies to temporarily layoff workers last month. That sent applications surging to 457,000 in the week of Jan. 22. But since then applications have been falling.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dipped to 415,500 last week. That's slightly above the two-year low of 411,250, reached in the week ending Jan. 1.

The unemployment rate fell to 9% in January, marking the fastest two-month decline in 53 years. Still, 9% unemployment is high.

Close to 14 million people are out of work. That's about twice as much as in December 2007, when the recession began. Competition for jobs remains fierce.

8 Million Jobs Lost

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress on Wednesday that it will take four or five years for the unemployment rate to return to a more normal rate below 6 percent. Employers will probably create a net total of 2.2 million jobs this year, according to an AP Economy Survey. That compares with 909,000 last year. The economy lost about 8 million jobs total in the two years before that.

Thursday's report also showed that the number of people on the unemployment benefit rolls fell to 3.89 million.

Those figures are one week behind the data on applications. It doesn't include millions more who are receiving benefits under emergency federal programs enacted during the recession.

Roughly 4.6 million people received aid under the extended benefit programs for the week ending Jan. 22, the latest data available. Those programs provide up to 99 weeks of aid in the states with the highest unemployment rates.

Overall 9.4 million people are receiving unemployment aid. That's up slightly from 9.3 million in the previous week.

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The trick is to have a multiple streams of revenue. I am not talking about getting wrapped up in some pyramid scheme or anything like that. There are many businesses you can start yourself with little to no money out of pocket. I started an eBay business 3 years ago that is still running strong today. The peak was profiting around 1400 per month and is currently around 600. That still pays my utilities plus a little. My big hopes are on my other one.

My wife’s company shut down in mid 2008. I was laid off from my job Jan 3, 2009. Of course the first few weeks were a shock and I was on the verge of falling into depression. I pulled myself out of bed one morning with the realization that I really have the opportunity of a lifetime! I have the time to do what I really wanted and enough money coming in to stay afloat while I chased my dreams.

1st I wanted to get into shape. I went for a run and was able to go almost 1/2 mile straight. I kept running and got up to about 3 miles but realized I would never accomplish "getting into shape" unless I set a goal and did whatever it took to achieve it. I decided to set the high goal of running a full 26.2 mile marathon, even though I haven't ever ran a race longer than a 1/2 mile track meet in high school almost 20 years ago. I completed my 1st marathon on Oct. 24th, 2009.

2nd I wanted to start my own business. I had a construction background and little investment money. I decided to go with a sweepstakes directory. I entered some before with some success and thought with as bad as the economy is, I bet a lot of people are looking for a way to get some extra money themselves. A few thousands bucks later my website SweepsPlay went live. I had to go back to work because it doesn't make enough to support us yet, but it is growing. Hopefully in the next year or so my wife and I can be home together again and spend time doing what we love without the stresses of money on our shoulders.

My point is that if you have lost your job, it is tough. I know, I have been there. Just keep your head up. It could be the best thing that ever happened if you take advantage of the opportunity. If you still have your job, even better! Plan ahead in case you lose it. You can't imagine how good it feels to have enough money to live on coming in from 2,3, or even 4 different places! Good luck.

February 13 2011 at 8:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

More funny numbers out of the Dept. Of Labor. When we allow the fox to guard the henhouse can you actually expect to see accurate reporting that is not in thier self interest? There should be independent reporting. Real unemployment is 18% + by any measure. That is all that should matter.

February 11 2011 at 3:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

These statistics fail to include the people that have had their unimployment expire. And the people that have had to move back in with their parents etc. How about having our politicians pass a tariff bill on imported manufactured goods and start getting people jobs here in the good old U. S. of A. or we could celebrate Bastile Day !

February 10 2011 at 8:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

They aren't mentioning the fact that the WELFARE ROLLS are rising! If you don't believe it go take a look at google and see here in mich. Don't you just love how they SPIN THINGS.

February 10 2011 at 5:03 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Hey I was unemployed for 2 yrs. I just started a job at about 50% of what I was making, but it is still more than unemployment was paying me which was part of the problem, but I am still thankful for it I just don't want to make a way of life. Sometimes I think everyone should feel the pain of not having a job and then some of these know nothings might understand.

February 10 2011 at 4:45 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Key word here is "claims". those still unemployed yet no longer able to collect unemployment are not counted in the figures. The unemployment rate is still high.

February 10 2011 at 4:04 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
metter's world

Obama couldn't create a job at all---the only people he knows outside of gov't are the waiters at the Harvard faculty lounge. the only other job he ever had was community activist--where he taught poor people to blame their problems on someone else and also how not to pay their bills.

February 10 2011 at 3:59 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply



February 10 2011 at 3:51 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Real numbers are at about 20%, and they were at 25% in the depression. But the differenct is we still had manufacturing and didn't give tax breaks to corporations to leave the country. The right continues to harp about regulations and taxes but that just politics of appealing to their base, the corporations and Wall Street. The difference between them and you is they have lobbyists and you don't. NO LOBBYIEST, NO Voice, NO JOBS. When will working class Republicans wakeup and smell the roses? If reducing taxes created jobs where are they? Since 2000 to now they have lowered tax rate to consumers and businesses. WAKE UP!

February 10 2011 at 3:37 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to drbuckles's comment

Dems in charge since 2006 except for in the House since January. Dems still have the Senate. So where are those jobs?

February 10 2011 at 4:07 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Who believes that unemployment is really 9%? The method used to compute the 9% rate is called U3 and is computed by surveying only 60,000 households. This method of calculating unemloyment comes from the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor in 1878 and is till in use today. The U6 computation method shows unemployment at 16.1%, a much more realistic assessment of those out of work. Come on people tell the truth, stop drinking the cool-aid.

February 10 2011 at 3:28 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply