The average number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits over the past month fell to the lowest level since March 2008, a sign that the job market is healing.
The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000 in the week ended Dec. 22. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to a nearly five-year low of 356,750.
Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have mostly fluctuated this year between 360,000 and 390,000. At the same time, employers have added an average of 151,000 jobs a month in the first 11 months of 2012. That’s just enough to slowly reduce the unemployment rate.
“US jobless aid applications fall to 5-year low” – as more and more people become ineligible to collect unemployment, are still jobless, but are no longer included in the calculation.
Economists were mildly encouraged by the decline in applications. But they emphasized that the figures are volatile around the holidays. They were also distorted until recent weeks by Superstorm Sandy.
The decline in unemployment benefit applications suggests companies are not yet slashing jobs because of concerns over the “fiscal cliff.” That’s the name for sharp tax increases and spending cuts that are scheduled to take effect next week unless the Obama administration and Congress can reach a deal before then.
Still, unemployment remains high and companies are reluctant to ramp up hiring. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in November from 7.9 percent in October mostly because many of the unemployed stopped looking for jobs. The government counts people as unemployed only if they are actively searching for work.
Look at the real troubling numbers. The U.S. share of global GDP has fallen from 31.8 percent in 2001 to 21.6 percent in 2011. Right now, approximately 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty. 1 in 4 make less than $10/hr. 28% don’t have a penny saved.
The total number of people receiving benefits rose 73,000 to 5.48 million in the week ended Dec. 8, the latest data available.
That includes about 2.1 million people who have been out of work for at least six months and are receiving extended benefits paid for by the federal government. The program is ending at the end of the year. That means those recipients will receive their final checks next week, unless an extension is granted.
So many people who are out of work are no longer eligible for benefits. Once everyone is out of work and has exhausted their benefits, new applications for unemployment will fall to ZERO. That is NOT a sign that “the job market is healing.”
Obama wants an extension included in the budget deal. Republicans have yet to agree to that.
There are signs the economy is improving. The once-battered housing market is recovering, which should lead to more construction jobs in the coming months.
Unemployment rate down while adult’s moving in with their parents climbs to an all time high.
Companies ordered more long-lasting manufactured goods in November, a sign they are investing more in equipment and software. And Americans spent more in November. Consumer spending drives nearly 70 percent of economic growth.
Consumers are starting to worry about higher taxes. A measure of consumer confidence fell to a five-month low this month, a survey released Friday found. Reports show the holiday shopping season was the weakest since 2008, when the country was in a deep recession.
Faces of the unemployed
Generation jobless: ‘Millennials’ struggle with unemployment | PBS
Parallels of Unemployment Insurance History Of The World
Full Video-Obama’s January 25, 2012 State Of The Union-Enhanced
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