Job­less claims fall to 258K; mar­ket looks healthy

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS - From wire ser­vices

Fewer Amer­i­cans sought un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits last week, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment re­ports, more ev­i­dence that the U.S. job mar­ket re­mains healthy.

Weekly ap­pli­ca­tions for un­em­ploy­ment aid dropped 3,000 to a sea­son­ally ad­justed 258,000, the La­bor Depart­ment said Thurs­day. The four-week av­er­age, a less volatile mea­sure, rose to 254,250.

The num­ber of peo­ple re­ceiv­ing ben­e­fits rose 65,000 to 2.05 mil­lion. Yet that fig­ure is down 5.7 per­cent from a year ago. A La­bor Depart­ment an­a­lyst said there were no spe­cial fac­tors in­flu­enc­ing last week’s claims data. Claims for Louisiana and Hawaii were es­ti­mated.

Ap­pli­ca­tions are a proxy for lay­offs and have re­mained be­low 300,000, a his­tor­i­cally low level, for 108 weeks. That’s the long­est such stretch since 1970, when the U.S. work­force and pop­u­la­tion were much smaller than they are to­day.

Such a low level of ap­pli­ca­tions sug­gests com­pa­nies are cut­ting few jobs. It also in­di­cates that those who are laid off might not be seek­ing un­em­ploy­ment aid as of­ten as in the past. That could be a good sign that they are quickly find­ing jobs, econ­o­mist say.

The U.S. econ­omy is grow­ing at a steady, if un­spec­tac­u­lar, pace and com­pa­nies stepped up hir­ing at the be­gin­ning of the year, data show.

The econ­omy grew at a mod­est 2.1 per­cent an­nual rate in the fi­nal three months of last year, the Com­merce Depart­ment said Thurs­day. That’s down from 3.5 per­cent in the third quar­ter.

For all of last year, growth was a slug­gish 1.6 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to data from the Com­merce Depart­ment.

Pro­jec­tions of the na­tion’s econ­omy growth for 2017 vary greatly. Eco­nomic fore­cast­ing firm Macroe­co­nomic Ad­vis­ers this week low­ered its pro­jec­tion of eco­nomic growth in the cur­rent quar­ter to an an­nual rate of 1.3 per­cent.

Bar­clays, mean­while, pro­jected a 1.4 per­cent growth rate, com­pared with 1.6 per­cent ear­lier. The Fed­eral Re­serve Bank of Atlanta low­ered its es­ti­mate to 0.9 per­cent from a 1.2 per­cent growth rate.

U.S. em­ploy­ers added an av­er­age of 237,000 jobs in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary, a pickup from last year’s av­er­age gains of 187,000. The un­em­ploy­ment rate ticked down to 4.7 per­cent last month from 4.8 per­cent.

Mean­while, non­farm pay­rolls rose by a healthy 238,000 in Jan­uary and 235,000 in Fe­bru­ary, the La­bor Depart­ment said in sep­a­rate re­ports. Wages, mean­while, have shown signs of im­prov­ing, a sign em­ploy­ers are be­ing forced to raise pay in a tight­en­ing la­bor mar­ket.

Mean­while, con­sumer prices rose 2.7 per­cent last month com­pared with a year ear­lier, the big­gest an­nual gain since March 2012, the La­bor Depart­ment re­ported.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.