Initial Jobless Claims Fall to 343,000, Second Lowest Rate of 2012

Initial Jobless Claims Fall By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply for a fourth straight week, a sign that the job market may be improving.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 29,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 343,000, the lowest in two months. It is the second-lowest total this year.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the drop indicates that companies are cutting fewer jobs. But employers also need to step up hiring to rapidly push down the unemployment rate.

Applications spiked five weeks ago because of Superstorm Sandy. The storm's impact has now faded. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell 27,000 to 381,500. Before the storm, applications had fluctuated between 360,000 and 390,000 this year.

The storm had little effect on overall hiring in November. Employers added 146,000 jobs last month, the government said last week. That's about the same as the average monthly gain of 150,000 in the past year.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent -- a four-year low -- from 7.9 percent in October. But that decline occurred mostly because more people without jobs gave up looking for work. The government counts people without jobs as unemployed only if they're actively seeking one.

The department also said Tuesday that employers posted the most open jobs in four months in October. That suggests that hiring could pick up a bit in the coming months.

But some companies may postpone hiring this month because of concerns over the "fiscal cliff," the package of tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect next year. If all the changes in the cliff take effect for a full year, economists forecast it would push the economy into recession.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are negotiating a potential deficit-reduction deal that would avert the cliff. The goal is to complete an agreement by the end of the year, though talks could continue into January.

Most economists say that if the tax increases and spending cuts are in effect only temporarily while a budget agreement is in sight, the damage to the economy would be minor.

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mwill28983

Sure the jobless rate fell that's because more than a million have lost their unemployment benefits not because they found jobs.

December 13 2012 at 3:20 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Russell Bennett

73% of the Jobs were Government and this is the time of the year when stores hire for Christmas. Their numbers don't look to good when you consider that.

December 13 2012 at 3:07 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
David

And it looks like the stock market isn't buying this report either!

December 13 2012 at 2:52 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
jayem92

Out of work,out of benefits, out of hope and out of change. I predict 4 more years of the same. Wait until the fiscal cliff hits, the unemployment claims will really drop then. Obama must be a genius because it will seem that the private sector is doing fine.

December 13 2012 at 2:39 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jayem92's comment
chris1011

Why don't you hire somebody then, or are you one of those bagger losers who collects his SS and medicare bennies and complains about moochers?

December 13 2012 at 5:20 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chris1011's comment
barikffaarik

U suck Evan

December 14 2012 at 3:07 AM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down
ectullis

No matter how you cook the books you can't make BHOzo look good.

December 13 2012 at 2:31 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ectullis's comment
mitchnoconnell

Yes, and unfortunately we found that out the hard way as well with Bombs away Bush.

December 13 2012 at 2:36 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mitchnoconnell's comment
barikffaarik

Mitchy / Evan / Somey / Whake support the muslim brotherhood and all islamic radicals like their messiah Burack

December 14 2012 at 3:33 AM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down
sksnyder25

I am so sick of hearing you Republicans tear down our president. Our area in FL was one of the hardest hit because all we have is construction. Our newpaper is a Republican sponsored paper so I was pleasantly surprised when they announced the latest polls in our area showed 76% of employers said they are hiring or will be hiring in 2013 compared to the 24% that said they would be laying off people. Companies all over America are hiring. You can't fake these results. Tell me how does it make Obama look good anyway if private companies are starting to hire?

December 13 2012 at 2:46 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sksnyder25's comment
barikffaarik

FO Evan

December 14 2012 at 3:10 AM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down
mitchnoconnell

Merry Cliffmas everyone! After Johnny B. gets done shoving us over the cliff I plan on holding the nation hostage again with debt ceiling games. Harming the nation's credit rating like I did last time is the only leverage I have.

December 13 2012 at 2:23 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
mitchnoconnell

You better answer Somey, your unemployment counselor is checking up on you again.

alcaponeinchicago
Is that you Somey ? Did you find a job yet, burger king is always hiring.

December 13 2012 at 2:18 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mitchnoconnell's comment
barikffaarik

Mitchy,Somey, Evan all the same stooge.

December 14 2012 at 3:12 AM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to barikffaarik's comment
barikffaarik

wackey too

December 14 2012 at 3:12 AM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down
Iselin007

Well if you can wait awhile longer the thugs and the serial shooters will open some retail jobs up.

December 13 2012 at 2:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sfisher951

And this, of course, accounts for the decrease in the DJ and the NASDAC. If ayone needed more information that "the market is not efficient" contrary to the pablum they taught us at U. of C. Business School, this is it.

December 13 2012 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pfela6

The President is doing a Herculean job.

December 13 2012 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pfela6's comment
ectullis

His agenda seems to be right on target.

December 13 2012 at 2:33 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply