Job­less aid seek­ers de­cline

Weekly ap­pli­ca­tions fall af­ter spike caused by Su­per­storm Sandy.

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS - By Christo­pher S. Rugaber Jobs

WASHINGTON — The num­ber of peo­ple seek­ing U.S. un­em­ploy­ment aid fell sharply last week as a tem­po­rary spike caused by Su­per­storm Sandy has faded. Weekly ap­pli­ca­tions have fallen back to a level con­sis­tent with mod­est hir­ing.

The La­bor De­part­ment said Thurs­day that ap­pli­ca­tions dropped 25,000 last week to a sea­son­ally ad­justed 370,000.

Un­em­ploy­ment aid ap­pli­ca­tions spiked a month ago af­ter Sandy shut­tered busi­nesses in the North­east. Ap­pli­ca­tions jumped to 451,000 in the week ended Nov. 10. Peo­ple can claim un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits if their work­places are forced to close and they aren’t paid.

Some an­a­lysts were en­cour­aged by how quickly ap­pli­ca­tions have re­turned to prestorm lev­els. Pierre El­lis, an econ­o­mist at De­ci­sion Eco­nom­ics, said the rapid drop sug­gests com­pa­nies are quickly re­hir­ing work­ers dis­placed by the storm. Re­build­ing and re­pair ef­forts could also be cre­at­ing jobs, he said.

The report is “a pos­i­tive devel­op­ment for the la­bor mar­ket, which ap­pears to be re­cov­er­ing from the tem­po­rary ef­fects of Sandy more rapidly than orig­i­nally an­tic­i­pated,” Joseph LaVorgna, an econ­o­mist at Deutsche Bank, said in a note to clients.

The early ef­fect of Sandy can still be seen in the four­week av­er­age. It rose to 408,000 last week.

Be­fore the storm hit on Oct. 29, ap­pli­ca­tions had fluc­tu­ated this year be­tween 360,000 and 390,000. They topped 400,000 for most of last year. That has co­in­cided with only mod­est de­clines in the un­em­ploy­ment rate.

Sandy fur­ther weak­ened hir­ing at small busi­nesses in Novem­ber, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey re­leased Thurs­day.

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