Last Updated:November 29 @ 05:55 pm

Unemployment remains high

By Daniel Wagner

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was unchanged last week at a seasonally adjusted 374,000, suggesting slow improvement in the job market.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week moving average, a less volatile measure, increased to 370,250.

Applications for unemployment benefits reflect the pace of layoffs. They have risen slightly over the past three weeks, though they remain lower than in spring, when hiring nearly stalled. Last week's number was revised upward to 374,000 from the 372,000 that was reported initially.

Still, when applications fall consistently below 375,000, it generally indicates that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

The latest applications data suggest that the government's employment report for August, to be released next week, will show job gains near the recent monthly average of 100,000, said Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist with Capital Economics. That isn't enough to drive down unemployment significantly.

"Given some of the indicators seen so far, the August payroll report is not going to look terribly inspirational," said Jennifer Lee, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets, in a note to clients.

Employers added 163,000 jobs in July. The hiring gains were an improvement from the previous three months, when the economy created an average of only 73,000 a month. But they weren't enough to lower the unemployment rate, which rose to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent in June.

When the government releases the August jobs report on Sept. 7, analysts expect it to say the economy added 118,000 jobs in August and that the unemployment rate held at 8.3 percent, according to FactSet.

Economists say stronger growth is needed to create more jobs and lower unemployment.

The economy grew at a tepid 1.7 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, the government said Wednesday. That's much slower growth than the 2 percent rate in the January-March quarter and 4.1 percent rate in the final three months of 2011.

Economists expect the economy will keep growing modestly in the second half of the year but at a subpar rate of roughly 2 percent. Growth at or below 2 percent is not enough to lower the unemployment rate. Most economists expect the unemployment rate to stay above 8 percent for the rest of this year.

A weak economy and high unemployment could hurt President Barack Obama re-election chances and bolster Mitt Romney's campaign. Republicans in Tampa, Fla., this week to nominate Romney have pointed to the dismal growth in making the case to elect their candidate.

The Labor Department's report Thursday said the number of people receiving benefits continues to decline. The total fell to 5.5 million in the week ended Aug. 11, the latest period for which figures are available. That's down about 62,000 from the previous week.

Some of the decline likely results from people finding jobs. Many also are exhausting their benefits because of the still-struggling economy and job market.

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  1. swizard101Comment by swizard101
    August 30, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

    Obama (on the economy & jobs):
    “I didn’t fail that, somebody else did that”

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  2. BrampsComment by Bramps
    August 30, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

    I haven’t heard solution one about creating the environment for job growth by the Democrats. In all seriousness, the leader of the U S Senate, Senator Harry Reid, instead spends his time blocking legislation that could alleviate the problem and makes unsubstantiated claims about Gov Romney’s tax returns for the past ten years. Instead of attempting to create a bi-partisan cooperative solution to the country’s problems, Obama issues executive orders that seemingly purposely averts any attempt to accomplish that end. Instead of considering the plight of the poor and unemployed, VP Biden says the Republicans are going to put minorities in chains. Aren’t these actions fantastic, heart warming, confidence building actions by our leaders of the Democratic party. It is a puzzle to me where anyone with any sense of common decency and common sense would favor their politics to the alternative available in November, unless maybe your going to be a beneficiary of Obama’s next give away program and you don’t care what happens to our country.

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  3. joelinpdxComment by joelinpdx
    August 30, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

    ” The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was unchanged last week at a seasonally adjusted 374,000, suggesting slow improvement in the job market.”

    How in the world does an unchanged number suggest “slow improvement”? I rather say it reflects no improvement.

    Oh, I see, this report comes from AP. It’s the MSM hoping to keep Barry Obozo in the White House.

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  4. chamuielComment by chamuiel
    August 30, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

    I think that is Obama’s story on everything. He did not excel, he did not get an A, he did not get a grade of of 80. In his mind he did not fail and that is about all one can say for Obama.

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  5. chamuielComment by chamuiel
    August 30, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

    Bramps, Oblamer does not want to move the country forward on the economy,jobs, etc. he does not worry about the old, poor, nor the unemployed. The only things that Oblamer want to do is to sow class warfare, make sure that racism is increased, and some how some way bring this country down and turn it into just another third world country sucking at the teats of the U.N.

    And he wants another four years to accomplish these goals so Michelle can be more proud of her country than she has ever been.

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