US jobless aid applications fall to 341,000: government
APWASHINGTON--The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell by 27,000 last week, an indication that hiring could improve.
February 16, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications dropped to a seasonally adjusted 341,000, the lowest level in three weeks. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, ticked up to 352,500 from a five-year low of 351,000 the previous week.
Applications have declined slowly but steadily in recent months. The four-week average has fallen 5 percent since November. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. As they fall, net hiring typically rises.
The applications figures “continue to show no sign of new weakening — if anything, the opposite,” said Jim O'Sullivan, an economist at High Frequency Economics. “The message: the recent trend in employment growth is at least being maintained.”
The snowstorm that hit the Northeast this weekend had limited impact on the latest figures. The report covers the week ended Feb. 9, before the storm hit.