US weekly unemployment aid applications rise 7K to 343K longerterm trend shows

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email WASHINGTON – The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose by 7,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 343,000.The increase follows a drop of 22,000 the previous week. But the broader trend is consistent with an improving job market.The four-week average, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, fell 1,250 to 345,250, according to the Labor Department.Weekly applications data can be volatile in July. Automakers typically shut their factories the first two weeks of the month to prepare for new models, leading to temporary layoffs. But this year much of the industry has skipped or shortened the shutdowns to meet stronger demand.Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They’re down nearly 8 per cent this year. Employers have added an average 202,000 new jobs a month this year, up from an average 183,000 in 2012.In June, employers added 195,000 jobs. The unemployment rate stayed at 7.6 per cent last month but is down from 8.2 per cent a year earlier.Job growth has been solid despite lacklustre economic growth. Economists expect the economy grew at an annual rate of less than 1 per cent in the April-June quarter, even worse than an unimpressive 1.8 per cent the first three months of the year. Federal spending cuts that took effect in March have hobbled economic growth.Still, some parts of the economy have proven resilient.The U.S. housing recovery is strengthening, for example. Sales of newly built homes rose 8.3 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 497,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That’s the highest since May 2008 and up from an annual rate of 459,000 in May.Sales are still below the 700,000 pace consistent with healthy markets. But they are up 38 per cent in the past 12 months. That’s the biggest annual gain since January 1992.New-home sales make up only a small part of the market. But they have an outsize economic impact. Each home built creates an average of three new jobs and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to data from the National Association of Home Builders US weekly unemployment aid applications rise 7K to 343K; longer-term trend shows improvement by Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press Posted Jul 25, 2013 8:42 am MDT

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