Unemployment Aid Hits 7-Month Low, Trade Gap Falls

WASHINGTON (AP) - The outlook for American jobs and trade looked a little brighter Thursday, despite growing uncertainty overseas.

The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week fell to a seasonally adjusted 390,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the fewest since April.

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $43.1 billion in September, its lowest point of the year, the Commerce Department said. Foreign sales of American-made autos, airplanes and heavy machinery pushed exports to an all-time high.

The data suggest layoffs are easing and the economy grew slightly better over the summer than the government had estimated a month ago.

Stocks rose in early-morning trading, one day after the market tumbled over concerns that Europe's debt crisis could worsen.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 46 points.

The reports "are modestly strong relative to expectations - encouraging confidence that the economy is gaining a bit of momentum," said Pierre Ellis, an analyst at Decision Economics.

Weekly applications for unemployment benefits have declined in three of the past four weeks, the Labor Department said. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 400,000, also the lowest point since April.

The downward trend in applications suggests businesses are laying off fewer workers. Still, applications need to consistently drop below 375,000 to signal sustained job gains. They haven't been at that level since February.

"The labor market is still weak and quite stagnant but there are hopeful signs of some modest improvement," said Steve Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics.

In September, exports increased 1.4 percent to a record $180.4 billion, reflecting a big increase in shipments of U.S. made autos and auto parts, the Commerce Department said. Imports were up a smaller 0.4 percent to $223.5 billion. Oil imports slowed after huge gains earlier in the year.

The deficit has narrowed for the last three months.

Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said the lower trade deficit in September could boost growth in the July-September quarter to an annual rate of 2.8 percent, up from the government's initial estimate of 2.5 percent.

Still, Europe's debt crisis could push that region into a recession next year, which could reduce demand for American exports and slow U.S. growth.

A higher deficit acts as a drag on economic growth because it means fewer jobs for American workers.

The outlook for hiring has been mixed in recent months. The economy added only 80,000 jobs in October, the fewest in four months.
But the government also said last week that employers added more jobs in August and September than it had initially reported, and the unemployment rate dipped to 9 percent.

A separate report this week showed that employers advertised more jobs in September than at any other point in the past three years. That's a positive sign for future hiring, since most companies typically take one to three months to fill vacant positions.

Still, the unemployment rate has been stuck near 9 percent for more than two years, and the Federal Reserve said last week that it is not expected to fall significantly through the end of next year.

The number of people receiving unemployment aid under regular state programs dropped 92,000 to 3.62 million in the week that ended Oct. 29. That doesn't include more than 3 million who are receiving extended benefits under an emergency program paid for by the federal government.

All told, more than 6.8 million people received benefits in the week that ended Oct. 22, the last period for which inclusive figures are available.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Introduction to Economic Indicators

Measure the performance of the economy.

View Course »

Economics 101

Intro to economics. But fun.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

41 Comments

Filter by:
warrenbent

We can all be assured nobody pays pgile to post (although some might consier paying him to keep his stupidity to himself).

November 11 2011 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pgile

Does someone pay Warren to post or is unemployment the reason he has both the time and negative disposition to write all this pablum? Note to warrenbent: rhetorical question here. Don't waste your valuable time answering.

November 11 2011 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
obama fools

OWS .............................PLEASE O.. A JOB ,CLASS ROOM.........A GRAVE..............YOU CAN SAVE AMERICA............

November 11 2011 at 3:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
obama fools

The aol/huff cop off today your post will show up on the board ...........

November 11 2011 at 2:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
obama fools

over 9% of america out of work and huff/aol talking about a 7 month low........PLEASE WAKE UP PEOPLE.....it slike saying i have 2 pennys now i have 3 pennys..........

November 11 2011 at 2:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
DDerr

Dont you love how our inept government tries to put a positive spin on the mess they made? Its may be good that our government is spending less on unemployment but.... GUESS WHAT!? It means there are more Americans without any source of money or means to live.
Folks, your government has screwed you and America up, letting the federal reserve to be created, allowing the government to grow and spend money on their own raises, on bribing voters, on entitlements to themselves and to people who do NOT deserve any help from the government. The Federal Reserve is what let our banks go friggin hog wilde loaning more money than they could ever cover, because the Fed Reserve can just print up more money to cover them, and charge the American people trillions in interest on this "counterfit money"! Can you imagine being the bank for the worlds largest economy, and you have the right to just print the friggin money up!!!? Can you imagine anything sooOOooo crazy! And its happening right now, right here, in America. Gawd I want to be proud of America again. But when you have dimwits like W Bush, and Obama with no understanding of the common sense contained within the Constitution, no understanding of staying within youre own budget, and with the Federal Reserve there to bail your horrible decisions and wars out at the expense of the American people and future generations.... well I just cannot respect America and the horrors it has created in the world.

November 11 2011 at 2:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
sg1fan2ohio

I love reading thru the posts on here. I do notice however, that when anyone makes a comment that makes sense, this warrenbent guy calls them names or makes fun of them. I have found in life that people who do not have a valid point are usually the first ones to resort to name calling and bullying to deter the topic off point. Just my two cents. Our economy sucks plain and simple and as long as the wealthy are spoon fed govt subsidies no real "net" jobs will be created. What no one here has pointed out is that the article still says that the unemployment rate is going to be the SAME for the next couple of years.. regardless of whether its 9% or 20%. ENDGAME: thats not GOOD NEWS

November 11 2011 at 12:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sg1fan2ohio's comment
warrenbent

Yes, comments that make ssense. like the ones about how the unemployment rate doesn't reflect those whose unemployment benefits have expired.

I have found in life that mindless drones who are do not have a brain of their own parrot whatever they are told, such as "the wealthy are spoon fed govt subsidies", and then become very upset when thinking people recognize them as being the useful idiots of their politician herders.

November 11 2011 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to warrenbent's comment
jockmassage26

and you think the farmers and big oil arent given billions of dollars in subsidies.. you're a complete MORON.. along with bailout of big banks, and subsidies given to electric companies, cell phone providers.. You are the only one here posting bs.. anyone who reads a variety of new stories knows what i have posted is TRUE.... and the unemployment rate DOES NOT COUNT THOSE NOT RECEIVING BENEFITS.. you IDIOT.. it NEVER HAS.. all you have to do is read the articles over the last year and IT CLEARLY POINTS THIS OUT.. if you're not looking.. YOU'RE NOT COUNTED.. but what about all those that cant afford to spend 60 bucks a week driving around looking for work becuase they are out of work.. GET A FREAKING CLUE.. what a complete LOSER

November 11 2011 at 2:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
warrenbent

Why do you insist on ignoring the data and methodology of reporting unemployment, and instead insist on repeating your ignorant story of flying pigs.

Are you concerend there could be some who have failed to recognize your village idiot status?

November 11 2011 at 4:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
georgetroll4

Warren Bent says that we are all "equal" and the 1%ers have no advantage over the 99%ers.
Then why does any even slight reduction of their plutocratic wealth differentiation cause terror in their Republican mentors?.
The USA is no longer a democracy-it is a plutocracy. It is run FOR the wealthy BY the wealthy.
The top 1% have had their incomes increased 200% in the past 10 years-the lower 99% (me) have had a 2 to 3% increase in the period.
Obama wants to SLOW that differentiation. Is that undemocratic or unplutocratic?

November 11 2011 at 9:16 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to georgetroll4's comment
warrenbent

Yes, just think how much better off georgebigot would be if over the last 10 years the top 1% of earners had experienced a 50% decrease in income, while the lower 99% experienced a 2 - 3% income decrease!

November 11 2011 at 9:32 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to warrenbent's comment
georgetroll4

Didn't you ever think of an equal raise for the rich and the poor (each20%).
IT would still be a much larger raise for the plutocrats-but better than 2 or 3 % for their servants.

Where did you take your math courses??

November 11 2011 at 11:30 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
warrenbent

No, goergebigot, I am not anywhere close to dumb enough to have ever imagined a Mao-style top-down approach to income allocation that stipulates you get the same raise for breathing that others earn by hard work, innovation, competion, risk assumption, and successfully providing goods and services in demand by fellow citizens.

November 11 2011 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
AreDubya

This is such a bullshit story to trick people into believing that unemployment aid hits a 7 month low. The truth about this story is unemployment is down only because the unemployed have run out of extensions and that is the real story!!!!

November 11 2011 at 6:57 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
George Frank

I noticed that a Mr. Warren Bent has about 8 comments concerning the positive economic news today about reduced new unemployment claims and reduced trade imbalance.
I guess he is happy with the uptick in the US economy.
I just hope that we can continue seeing the positive economic signs. It would be a lot easier for the economy to continue to improve if the Republicans would stop caring only about the wealth of the "1 percenters" and approve the reduced payroll deductions and continuing unemployment benefits that would help the "99 percenters."
I wonder if Mr Bent is a 1-percenter or a 99 percenter??

November 10 2011 at 8:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to George Frank's comment
warrenbent

Goerge, if you aren't happy with the uptick in the economy, I assume that means you prefer a downtick?

I don't want politicians to favor high income earners, low income earners, or those of us in between. After all, the original intent of central government was to create and maintain an environment for the free and just pursuit of happines, not to pick winners or losers based on income or any other shared trait..

We're all free and equal Americans, George. I despise bigots who instead imagine us to be defined by particulistic traits such as our race or gender or level of income, etc.

That you wonder if I'm a "1-percenter or a 99 percenter" is exactly the kind of bigot I deplore.

November 10 2011 at 8:59 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply