Unemployment Claims Highest In 5 Weeks, Rise To 372,000

UnemploymentBy Jason Lange

WASHINGTON, Aug 23 (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week, suggesting the labor market is healing too slowly to make much of a dent in the unemployment rate.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 372,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was the highest level in five weeks. The data keeps pressure on President Barack Obama ahead of his November re-election bid. His Republican challenger is trying to focus voters' attention on a lofty unemployment rate that has dogged Obama's presidency.

Many economists think the Federal Reserve could unveil a new bond buying program to prop up economic growth as soon as its next meeting Sept 12-13, although an improvement in hiring this month could make that less likely.

The report on jobless claims did have a silver lining, however.

The data covers the same week looked at by the government for its monthly measure of employment, and showed a slight drop in layoffs from the survey week last month, which is a mildly positive signal for hiring in August.

The four-week moving average for new claims, a measure of labor market trends, was 368,000 last week. That was a slight increase from the prior week, but still 2.1 percent lower than in the second week of July.

That week, the government surveyed employers and concluded 163,000 new jobs were created in July - an improvement from the prior three months though the unemployment rate still ticked higher to 8.3 percent.

The government will release its employment report for August on Sept. 7, and policymakers at the Federal Reserve will scrutinize the data for signs the economy is improving.

Minutes from the Fed's July 31-Aug. 1 policy review, released on Wednesday, showed the central bank is likely to deliver another round of monetary stimulus "fairly soon" unless the economy improves considerably.

Claims data, which swung wildly in July due to shifts in seasonal auto plant shutdowns, are now giving a clearer picture of the labor market's health.

A Labor Department official said there was nothing unusual in the state-level data. The prior week's figure for initial claims was revised higher to 368,000 from the previously reported 366,000.

The U.S. economy faces a number of threats, including the looming possibility the government will raise taxes and cut spending. That is already hurting business sentiment.

Europe's festering debt crisis also menaces the global economy. Business surveys released on Thursday painted a global picture of economic malaise from Beijing to Berlin.

The euro zone economy will shrink around 0.5 percent in the current quarter, with weakness even spreading through Germany, the region's largest and strongest economy, Markit's Purchasing Mangers' Index suggested.

Also worrisome for global growth, the HSBC Flash China manufacturing PMI fell to 47.8 for August, its lowest level since November and well down from July's final figure of 49.3.

In the United States, the number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid rose 4,000 to 3.317 million in the week ended Aug. 11, the claims report showed.

A total of 5.59 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits under all programs in the week ended Aug. 4, down 109,812 from the prior week.

Many economists think the Federal Reserve could unveil a new bond buying program to prop up economic growth as soon as its next meeting Sept 12-13, although an improvement in hiring this month could make that less likely.

The report on jobless claims did have a silver lining, however.

The data covers the same week looked at by the government for its monthly measure of employment, and showed a slight drop in layoffs from the survey week last month, which is a mildly positive signal for hiring in August.

The four-week moving average for new claims, a measure of labor market trends, was 368,000 last week. That was a slight increase from the prior week, but still 2.1 percent lower than in the second week of July.

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Angela J Shirley

I often wonder who collects this data and if they actually go out and get this data? I am so over all the dismal media coverage and who cares how high the unemployment figures are every month. How about reporting some solutions? We have to start somewhere to get the economy back to normal and hang on to some hope.
Career Counseling, Rockport Institute http://www.rockportinstitute.com

August 25 2012 at 10:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

Has Obama met with his jobs council yet? It's been over 7 months now.

Obamas a fiasco

August 25 2012 at 7:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

ohmyboehnertwo and whackjobtwo = 2 Obamites in one.

Lmaoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

August 24 2012 at 5:22 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

Only a guilty Obamite would respond to a comment about one person posting under 2 different screen names.

What a dope.

Obamas a fiasco

August 24 2012 at 5:20 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

An Obamite posted the following:
"The GOP is the Party of and for the 1%."

So that means the Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Biden, and Clinton will be voting for Republicans in November.
All of them are the 1%.

Obamas a fiasco

August 24 2012 at 5:18 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to democracks0's comment
mrspelosi

I know I will be voting for Republicans dear. Thanks for confirming that doll.

August 26 2012 at 11:00 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Scott

No budget in several years and we are ignoring the Bowles/Simpson papers. Uncertainty, lack of direction, and lack of leadership in our country are the reasons no one wants to add jobs. It seems as though everything has to come to a crisis before it gets addressed. In our family life this would be considered disfunctional, but in goverment we seem to except it.....why?

August 24 2012 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Scott's comment
democracks0

Obamas a fiasco

August 25 2012 at 7:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

Obamites are asking where are the jobs? Ask Obama. Obama hasn't met with his jobs council in over 7 months. For someone who said he's laser focused on jobs you would think that he wouldn't have let 7 months go by without a meeting. Just proves that Obamas main concern is saving his own job and partying with the 1%ers that can afford Obamas $40,000.00 a plate campaign fund raisers.

August 24 2012 at 1:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

An Obamite posted the following:
"The GOP is the Party of and for the 1%."

So that means the Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Biden, and Clinton will be voting for Republicans in November.
All of them are the 1%.

Obamas a fiasco

August 24 2012 at 1:15 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to democracks0's comment
democracks0

*That Obama

August 24 2012 at 1:21 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
ohmyboehnertwo

Mitt Robme is a billionaire, Mitt Robme is the 1%. The Democrats wants to end the Bush taxes for the 1% and give the middle class tax cuts. Paul Ryan's budget calls for a trillion dollar tax cut for the 1%.

August 24 2012 at 4:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ohmyboehnertwo's comment
mrspelosi

No we don't dear. If we democrats really wanted to end the tax cuts we would have done that when me, President Obama and Harry Reid had control of the house, senate and White House darling. Rich people like me, President Obama and Harry Reid love our tax cuts dear. That is why we kept them in place.

Thank you so much for allowing me to straighten this out for you doll. I surely hope that you are clear on this now darling dearest

August 25 2012 at 4:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
democracks0

Funny how Obamites say that Obama created jobs and then Obamites ask where are the jobs? Make up your mind.

Get your act together Obamites.

Obamas a disaster.

August 24 2012 at 1:12 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

One Obamaite posting using two different screen names. LMAOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Obamas a fiasco

August 24 2012 at 1:10 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to democracks0's comment
ohmyboehnertwo

Hi evan, are you crying again? The weeper of the house cries to just look at my photo of him.

August 24 2012 at 4:50 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ohmyboehnertwo's comment
mrspelosi

When the men in the white coats came to get you dear, did you even try and hide darling?
How unfortunate for you.

August 25 2012 at 4:27 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down