Weekly US Jobless Aid Applications Dip to 370,000
WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of people seeking unemployment benefits changed little last week, signaling modest job growth.
The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for benefits dipped by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 370,000.
Applications have leveled off this month after declining from April’s five-month high of 392,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, has also dropped - it was 370,000 last week.
The lower level indicates hiring could pick up a bit in May from April’s sluggish pace. When applications drop below 375,000 a week, it typically suggests hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.
Ian Shepherdson, an economist at High Frequency Economics, said applications should fall soon given that some recent data indicate the economy is improving.
"We think it is just a matter of time ... before claims start to drop back down again," he said in a note to clients.
Economists forecast employers have added 160,000 jobs this month. That’s above April’s gains but below the pace set this winter. The government will report next Friday on May job growth.
Some companies are launching mass layoffs. Hewlett-Packard Co.’s chief executive, Meg Whitman, said Wednesday that the company will cut 27,000 jobs, or 8 percent of its work force, over the next two years.
The unemployment rate has fallen from 9.1 percent in August to 8.1 percent last month.
Part of the reason for the drop is that employers have added a million jobs over the past five months. But it has also declined because some people gave up looking for work. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively looking for a job.