National Edition

Jobless claims drop to near 6-year low

Published: Thursday, Dec. 5 2013 2:50 p.m. MST

In this April 4, 2013 file photo, people line up for entry to a job fair in Montpelier, Vt. Less Americans are filing for unemployment benefits and have neared a six-year low, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

Toby Talbot, Associated Press

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Fewer Americans are filing for unemployment benefits and have neared a six-year low, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

The report said jobless claims fell by 23,000 to 298,000 — nearing a six-year low, according to the Los Angeles Times. Claims have fallen in seven of the last eight weeks, “signaling that layoffs are easing,” according to the Times.

The Associated Press said “the less volatile four-week moving average declined 10,750 to 322,250” and the economy added about 202,000 jobs a month from August to October, which is an increase from the 146,000 average claims filed from May to July.

“The labor market continues to improve,” said Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York, according to Bloomberg. “Not only is the rate of layoffs slowing precipitously, more people are finding work.”

But some analysts are skeptical of the drop, which was graphed out by Bloomberg. Economists expected claims to “hover around 320,000” and were surprised by the decline, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“This looks great but it's hard to take the numbers seriously given the difficulty of seasonally adjusting accurately for Veterans Day, the late Thanksgiving holiday and, soon, the Christmas and New Year chaos," Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note to clients, according to the Los Angeles Times. "Right now, then, we just don't know what's really happening to the underlying trend in claims, but we would offer generous odds that it is not sub-300,000 or anywhere near it."

And there’s still a high unemployment rate, which is at 7.3 percent, according to the AP.

“That’s well above the 5 percent to 6 percent unemployment rate consistent with healthier job markets,” reported the AP. “When unemployment is lower, workers have more flexibility to change jobs.”

Despite a high employment rate and skepticism from analysts, the U.S. economy is growing faster than some think, according to BBC News.

The economy grew an annual pace of 3.6 percent in 2013’s third quarter, which is higher than the estimated 2.8 percent, marking the fastest growth rate since the first quarter of 2012, BBC reported.

But according to the AP, consumer spending was at a near four-year low and most of the growth was because of stockpiles. So “when excluding inventories, the economy grew at a 1.9 percent rate in the third quarter, down from 2.1 percent in the spring. That's in line with the same subpar rate that the economy has seen since the Great Recession ended four years ago.”

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, told the AP, "There's no momentum here.”

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @hscribner

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