Unemployment Aid Applications Rise to 386,000

unemployment applicationsBy CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER

WASHINGTON -- More Americans sought unemployment aid last week, suggesting hiring remains sluggish.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly unemployment benefit applications rose 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 386,000. The increase came after the government revised the previous week up to 380,000.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose for the third straight week to 382,000. That's the highest in six weeks.

Weekly applications are a measure of the pace of layoffs. When they drop below 375,000, it typically suggests hiring is strong enough to reduce the unemployment rate.

"The trend in jobless claims suggests ... that the underlying pace of employment growth has softened," said Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas.

Applications fell steadily during the fall and winter but have since leveled off.

At the same time, hiring has slowed, raising concerns about the pace of the recovery. Employers added an average of only 96,000 jobs per month in the past three months. That's down from an average of 252,000 in the previous three months.

Weaker hiring also pushed up the unemployment rate in May to 8.2%, its first rise in nearly a year.

Joseph LaVorgna, an economist at Deutsche Bank, said the increase in applications was "slightly disconcerting" but added that more data would be needed to establish a trend. Still, he forecasts that the economy will gain only 75,000 jobs this month.

Faster job creation is crucial in order to accelerate growth. More jobs mean more income for consumers, which may lead to higher spending. Consumer spending fuels about 70% of the economy.

The number of people continuing to receive benefits fell sharply, partly because extended benefit programs are ending in many states.

The total benefit rolls fell to 5.8 million in the week ending May 26, the latest data available. That's a drop of 146,000 from the previous week.

Many economists blame the slowdown in hiring partly on the unusually warm winter. Companies moved up some hiring in January and February that normally would have occurred in spring. As that trend fades, job gains might recover in the coming months.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that the warm winter might be a reason for the slowdown in hiring. He also suggested that the burst of job gains earlier this year could have represented a "catch-up in hiring' by employers who cut too deeply in the recession.

In that case, stronger economic growth would be needed to boost hiring further, Bernanke said.

For now, the economy appears to be sputtering. It expanded 1.9% in the first quarter, down from 3% in the October-December quarter. Growth isn't expected to improve much in the current April-June quarter.

Consumers remain cautious. Retail sales fell 0.2% in May, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, matching April's decline. It was the first back-to-back drop in two years.

A big reason for the decline was falling prices at the gas pump, which reduced gas station sales. The average price for a gallon of gas was $3.54 Wednesday, according to AAA. That's 40 cents cheaper than the peak in early April.

That drop should free up more cash for consumers to spend in the coming months, which could accelerate spending this summer, economists said.

The economy is still struggling three years after the recession officially ended in June 2009. Wages haven't kept up with inflation. State and local governments have continued to shed jobs.

The United States has regained less than 3.8 million, or 43%, of the 8.8 million jobs lost during and immediately after the recession.

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Robert & Lisa

We've had more people coming into our business than ever before looking for a job.

June 17 2012 at 1:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ha6ai

How are you enjoying the Obama-economy?

June 16 2012 at 3:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
n5monthsocrapleft

all big companys fight back n keep laying off workers untill this muslim clown is removed from our white house n his unconstitutional welfare "hell" care is abolished n we enact our american arizona law in all '50" states. ! !

June 15 2012 at 7:12 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to n5monthsocrapleft's comment
craigmrfrn

Yes it's the liberals and their kids school taxes that are killing me. This should also be ruled unconstitutional! Pay for your own education. Why should I have to pay for it? I don't have kids! Take your liberal baby making butts to another country or pay for your own kids education!

June 18 2012 at 11:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
butteparts1

Great! - - The private sector is FINE! yepper. And now you wonderful lemmings are going to vote in Mittens who you will never get slowed down on his flip floppping! This once great nation is toast!- - Mittens will find another war for your kids to go get themselves maimed and killed in while the Military Industrial Complex will continue to thrive. On the other side of the isle the Progressive fools will buy oil to keep the money printing machines running full blast. Are all of you flippin BLIND! can you not see this isn't a game of Demo vs. Repub.?

June 15 2012 at 9:28 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to butteparts1's comment
chris1011

And I cannot find qualified machinists to run our CNC lathes and milling machines. So much for unemployment. Seems like everyone has a business degree or one in basket weaving and flower arrangement, and nobody has learned mechanics, blue print reading or measurements with micrometers. Where do I find machinists other than Asia? Unemployment for skilled trades is close to zero around here!

June 15 2012 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to chris1011's comment
n5monthsocrapleft

ask the muslim clown who created micky dee~~dollar store~~walmart~~buger king jobs ,for the last 3 1/2 years ~~~>ROMNEY / 2012 ~~GETTING AMERICA BACK ON THE RIGHT TRACK. ! !

June 15 2012 at 4:59 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down
craigmrfrn

You can find them, you just don't want to train them!

June 18 2012 at 11:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
garygkennedy

Our great government with another lie, every month they report lower unemployeement then when no one is watching adjust upward everytime the higher numbers. Then next month when unemployment is up again they say not so much because they had raised the last numbers up. then on top of that they dont count people who are off unmp and stop looking for jobs. We are still losing jobs and the real unmp is 15-25% depending on what state. Obama cant blaim Bush, we where technoley out of the resession according to Obama two years ago. this is his doing with all the regulations and saying he wants tax increase and Obama care. NO BUSINESS WILL HIRE NOT KNOWING WHAT NEW COST THEY ARE GOING TO GET

June 15 2012 at 8:28 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
xiaogermaine8

George when Obama reports the unemployment figure as 8.2 in itself terrible he does not include the people already unemployed and that have stopped looking for jobs. In fact, in a depression the unemployment figure according to this kind of reporting would be 0. I thought we all had brothers and sisters with huge egos and small self esteem that can never tell the truth? His solution would be to grow Government jobs, not unlike Greece and Spain had done. The private sector is a mess some he inherited most were made worse because the US Press does not have the courage to save the nation simply to lie for the liar. Our Children are going to pay dearly if the wars do not kill them first. I hope the press wakes up and also understands the stock market is like Vegas it has nothing to do with the 1% interest on a CD that Americans recieve today because the Fed policies are disasters and the paperwork is driving big business, it must, to incorporate in the islands and Chana. Obama is a liar and has to tax but no one has money but the companies that taxed and the rich that pay the majority of taxes and build businesses. They are going south where they can make money.

Obama just can not stop being a socialist, China has, and the press as Marx said will kill the constitution and as soon as the drones park over your home Big Brother is Watching as HG Wells turns a smile in his grave. How many people have the stomich to listen to Obama speak on TV and once again tell his lies so Eric Holder can kill Americans and the Law of the land?

June 15 2012 at 8:26 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
n5monthsocrapleft

the out of control spending muslim clown is flying around our country campaigning n not worrying about the economy he tanked n drove into economic disaster n spending millions of dollars on jet fuel as america sinks further n further into the crapper~~"the american people got hoodwinked".! ! !

June 15 2012 at 8:22 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
george

i dont understand these figures obama says this country is doing great
just look at all the jobs he created according to him every one is working

because obama doesnt lie or is he just one big lie

June 15 2012 at 7:40 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
lifehub

Thought the private sector is doing so swell, eh Bammy dude.

June 15 2012 at 7:11 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
lifehub

The title should read, 'MOST Americans' and not 'MORE Americans.'

June 15 2012 at 7:10 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply