This Day On The Street
Continue to site
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

US Unemployment Aid Applications Drop To 339K

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, the second-fewest in more than five years. The drop suggests that layoffs have declined and that job growth may pick up from last month's sluggish pace.

Applications for benefits dropped 16,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average declined 4,500 to 357,500.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When they decline, it signals that companies are cutting fewer jobs.

Still, layoffs are only half the equation: Businesses also need to be confident enough in the economy to step up hiring. Many companies have been advertising more jobs but have been slow to fill them. Job openings jumped 11 percent during the 12 months that ended in February, but the number of people hired declined, according to a Labor Department report this month.

The still-uncertain economy has made many companies reluctant to hire. Some employers appear to be holding out for perfect job candidates. In particular, companies say they can't find enough qualified candidates for high-skilled manufacturing and engineering jobs.

Other employers may not be offering high enough pay to attract the candidates they need.

Still, most economists were encouraged by Thursday's report on unemployment benefits, though some cautioned against reading too much into one week's data.

"The downtrend in unemployment remains on track," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

In March, employers added only 88,000 jobs. That was a sharp drop from the previous four months, when hiring averaged 220,000 per month.

The unemployment rate fell to a four-year low of 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent in February. But the drop occurred because more people out of work stopped looking for jobs. The government doesn't count people as unemployed unless they are actively looking for work.

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG

Markets

DOW 17,826.30 -279.47 -1.54%
S&P 500 2,081.18 -23.81 -1.13%
NASDAQ 4,931.8150 -75.9760 -1.52%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs