The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

April 12, 2013

U.S. jobless aid applications drop

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, suggesting March’s weak month of hiring may have been a temporary slowdown.

Unemployment aid applications dropped by 42,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The steep decline reversed sharp gains over the previous two weeks and brought the level back to a point that signals stronger job growth.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 3,000 to 358,000.

The data have been volatile in the past two weeks largely because of the Easter holiday, a department spokesman said. The timing of the holiday changes from year to year. That makes it difficult to adjust for school holidays and other changes that can cause temporary layoffs.

Applications had jumped by 31,000 two weeks ago to 388,000, the highest level in four months.

“Last week’s spike appears to have been a false alarm,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a note to clients. “The report should assuage some of the concerns raised by last week’s weaker-than-expected data, particularly payrolls.”

Employers added only 88,000 jobs in March, the government said last week. That followed four months in which job growth averaged 220,000. The drop in unemployment benefits could signal that more solid hiring will return in April.

The unemployment rate fell to a four-year low of 7.6 percent last month, down from 7.7 percent in February. However, the rate fell only because more people stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The decline in applications signals that companies are laying off fewer workers.

Still, layoffs are only half of the equation. Businesses also need to be confident enough in the economic outlook to add more jobs.

Economists predict that economic growth accelerated in the January-March quarter to an annual rate of 3 percent. That would be a vast improvement from the rate of 0.4 percent in the October-December, which was held by steep defense cuts and slower restocking.

One concern is that across-the-board government spending cuts that began on March 1 will shave a half-percentage point from growth this year. That may have also made businesses cautious about hiring last month.

Nearly 5.28 million people received unemployment aid in the week ended March 23, the latest data available. That’s about 10,000 fewer than the previous week.

1
Text Only
AP story section
  • State to reopen Juvenile Home DES MOINES -- A district court judge on Wednesday ordered the state to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home, telling Gov. Terry Branstad he cannot unilaterally change a law approved by the state Legislature. Judge Scott Rosenberg said the home in Toledo was

    February 6, 2014

  • Panel OKs ban on remote abortion pill distribution DES MOINES -- A legislative panel approved a measure Wednesday that would ban the remote distribution of abortion pills, a proposal the bill's sponsor said is intended to delay the procedure and give women more time to change their minds. The subcomm

    February 6, 2014

  • Sioux City gambling group halts local grants SIOUX CITY -- The nonprofit that holds the gambling license for the Argosy Sioux City riverboat casino has voted to temporarily stop sending grants to local charities and government agencies. A legal dispute with the operator of the casino, Penn Nati

    January 15, 2014

  • Davenport pays, apologizes to hearing impaired man DAVENPORT (AP) -- The city of Davenport has issued an unusual apology to a former alderman after a police employee was caught on tape saying that he intentionally knocked softly on the hearing-impaired man's door when responding to a service call. Th

    January 15, 2014

  • Budget Branstad presents budget for next fiscal year DES MOINES -- Gov. Terry Branstad offered a budget proposal Tuesday that includes a tax break for veterans, a tuition freeze for college students and incentives to encourage Internet expansion in rural Iowa, a more modest list of priorities one year

    January 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gov. restores more felons' voting rights IOWA CITY (AP) -- Gov. Terry Branstad restored voting rights to more felons in 2013 than the prior two years combined, but thousands of others remain disenfranchised under a 2011 policy change. Data released by the governor's office to The Associated

    January 15, 2014

  • Man fatally shot at Fla. theater over texting WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (AP) -- A 71-year-old retired police officer accused of shooting a man dead in a Florida movie theater told authorities that "he was in fear of being attacked" during Monday's confrontation. Curtis Reeves is charged with second-de

    January 15, 2014

  • Iowa Senator: Congress must confirm election board DES MOINES -- An Iowa senator asked a U.S. Senate committee Wednesday to confirm appointees to a federal election commission so a decision can be made about whether Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is properly using money for voter-fraud investig

    January 9, 2014

  • School Discipline Gov't: End overly zealous discipline in schools WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Obama administration is urging schools to abandon overly zealous discipline policies that civil rights advocates have long said lead to a school-to-prison pipeline that discriminates against minority students. The wide-ranging

    January 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Governor, lawmakers set modest goals for 2014 DES MOINES -- After reaching bipartisan agreements on several major policy initiatives last year, Gov. Terry Branstad said Wednesday that he is setting more modest expectations for the 2014 legislative session. Speaking at The Associated Press' annua

    January 9, 2014

AP Video
Facebook
National News