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
  • Iraq violence threatens OPEC's precarious balance NEW YORK (AP) -- The oil market has balanced out quite nicely for OPEC in recent years. Now, upheaval in Iraq shows that balance may be more precarious than it has seemed. Dramatic changes in oil production around the globe have offset each other ins

    June 13, 2014

  • Board of Trade Grain mixed, livestock mostly higher CHICAGO (AP) -- Grain futures were mixed Thursday in early trading on the Chicago Board of Trade. Wheat for July delivery was 1 cent higher at $5.9025 a bushel; July corn was 1.25 cents lower at $4.4075 a bushel; July oats were unchanged at $3.4625 a

    June 13, 2014

  • Health campaign among nation's costliest CHICAGO -- President Barack Obama's home state agreed to spend $33 million in federal money promoting his health care law, hiring a high-priced public relations firm for work that initially was mocked and spending far more per enrollee on television

    June 13, 2014

  • Some states roll back teacher tenure protections WASHINGTON (AP) -- Even before a judge's scathing ruling against California's teacher tenure policies, the once-sacred protections that make it harder to fire teachers already had been weakened in many states -- and even removed altogether in some pl

    June 13, 2014

  • Tigers' Scherzer outduels Sale CHICAGO -- Max Scherzer already has a Cy Young Award. Now he has a complete game. Scherzer tossed a three-hitter in his 179th career start for his first complete game and Victor Martinez hit his 16th homer to lead the Detroit Tigers to a 4-0 win over

    June 13, 2014

  • $40M casino for rural Iowa approved BURLINGTON (AP) -- The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has voted 3-2 to grant a license for a $40 million casino development that would be located in rural central Iowa. Supporters of the Jefferson casino burst into applause during a meeting in Bur

    June 13, 2014

  • Principal case leads to two hearings RED OAK -- Two hearings are planned related to a southwest Iowa school district's plan to fire a high school principal. The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil reported the effort to fire Red Oak High School Principal Jedd Sherman will be the subject of a

    June 13, 2014

  • U.S. split outgrows voting booth WASHINGTON (AP) -- Political polarization in America has broken out of the voting booth. A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds Americans are divided by ideology and partisanship not only when they cast ballots, but also in choosing where to

    June 13, 2014

  • Cubs' offense no help for Samardzija PITTSBURGH -- Jeff Samardzija has some advice his pitching brethren when it comes to facing streaking Andrew McCutchen. Don't. The way the Chicago Cubs' ace looks at it, trying to get the Pittsburgh Pirates' star out at the moment only opens yourself

    June 13, 2014

  • 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

AP Video
Facebook
National News