Monday, October 5th2.9°C

Weekly applications for US jobless benefits rise to 348,000, though overall trend remains low

WASHINGTON - Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits rose 19,000 last week to 348,000, the highest in about a month. But the broader trend in applications remains low.

The Labor Department says that the four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased just 750 to 333,000. The increase follows three weeks of declines.

The average is close to pre-recession levels and suggests that, despite last week's rise, layoffs remain low. Last week's figure may also have been pushed up by cold weather, which can cause construction firms to stop work.

"We expect claims to head back below the 330,000 mark over the next few weeks," said Ian Shepherdson, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, a forecasting firm.

Hiring will need to pick up to reduce the unemployment rate, which is still high at 6.7 per cent. Employers added just 74,000 jobs in December, the fewest in three years and far below the average of 214,000 added in the previous four months. Most economists forecast that hiring will rebound in January to roughly the 185,000 average monthly gains of the past two years.

The unemployment rate fell in December to 6.7 per cent from 7 per cent. Much of the decline was due to the fact that 347,000 unemployed people stopped looking for work. Once people without jobs stop trying to find one, they're no longer counted as unemployed.

About 3.6 million people received benefits in the week ended Jan. 11, the latest data available. That's about 123,000 fewer than the previous week. That total has fallen 39 per cent in the past year.

A key reason for that drop: About 1.4 million people lost extended unemployment benefits after a 5-year old emergency federal program expired Dec. 28. The program provided up to 47 extra weeks of unemployment aid paid for by the federal government.

In Tuesday's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama urged Congress to extend the program. But congressional Democrats haven't been able to reach agreement with Republicans on how to offset the estimated $6 billion cost for a three-month extension.

There are some signs the economic growth is picking up. The economy expanded at a healthy 3.2 per cent annual rate in the October-December quarter. That followed even better 4.1 per cent growth in the July-September period. Consumers boosted their spending at the fastest pace in three years in the fourth quarter.

Consumer confidence rose in January, a sign that Americans may continue to spend more this year. Factory output rose for a fifth straight month in December.

Not all recent signs have been positive. The savings rate fell in the fourth quarter compared with the third, which means Americans are saving less in order to spend more. And businesses placed fewer orders with U.S. factories in December for machinery and other capital goods.

The Canadian Press

Read more Business News

Recent Trending

Today's Market
S&P TSX13339.74+97.85
S&P CDNX525.56-0.33
S&P 5001951.36+27.54
CDN Dollar0.7627+0.0025
Natural Gas2.468+0.017

Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.215+0.000
QHR Technologies Inc1.19+0.01
Metalex Ventures0.06+0.00
Russel Metals21.48-0.07
Copper Mountain Mining0.42+0.03
Colorado Resources0.08+0.01
ReliaBrand Inc0.004-0.000
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.02+0.00
Mission Ready Services0.095+0.005
Decisive Dividend Corp3.49+0.45
Diamcor Mining0.90+0.02


2448367101 3850 Brown Rd
2 Percent Realty Okanagan Ltd baths
more details
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading

Living beyond 100

Photo: ContributedThere was a time most careers involved an apprenticeship of one sort another. Some official, others involving years of servitude, and others time simply spent watching and emulating ...

Collateral mortgage

Photo: Thinkstock.comMost of the time I recommend that my clients not take a collateral type mortgage product, as it locks you in with the current lender and at maturity the mortgage is costly to tran...

5 Claim misconceptions

Photo: Thinkstock.comIf you have been hurt in an accident or as a result of medical negligence you will likely look to your friends and family for some advice on how to deal with the situation. These ...




Member of BC Press Council