US Jobless Aid Applications Fall To 5-Year Low - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

US Jobless Aid Applications Fall To 5-Year Low

Posted: Updated:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell to a five-year low last week, a hopeful sign the job market is healing. But much of the decline reflects seasonal volatility in the data.
    
Weekly unemployment benefit applications fell 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 335,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the lowest level since January 2008, just after the recession began.
    
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 359,250.
    
The applications data can be uneven in January. Job cuts typically spike in the second week of the month as retailers, restaurants and other companies lay off temporary workers hired for the winter holidays.
    
Last week, the layoffs weren't as large as expected, a department spokesman said. That caused a steep drop in the seasonally adjusted data.
    
Overall, applications remain at a level that suggests employers are hiring at a slow but steady pace. Applications fluctuated between 360,000 and 390,000 for most of last year. At the same time, employers added an average of 153,000 jobs a month.
    
That's just been enough to slowly push down the unemployment rate, which fell 0.7 percentage points last year to 7.8 percent.
    
Employers added 155,000 jobs last month, nearly matching the average for the year. December's steady job gain suggests employers didn't cut back on hiring in the midst of the debate over the tax and spending changes known as the fiscal cliff. Many economists feared that the prospect of higher taxes and steep cuts in federal spending would cause a slowdown in job gains.
    
That's a good sign, since more budget showdowns are expected. Congress must vote to raise the government's $16.4 trillion borrowing limit by sometime between mid-February and early March. If not, the government risks defaulting on its debt. Republicans will likely demand deep spending cuts as the price of raising the debt limit.
    
The overall economy grew at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the July-September quarter. But economists believe activity slowed considerably in the October-December quarter to a rate below 2 percent or less, in part because companies cut back on restocking.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • PHOTOS: Hobo Spider season has arrived

    PHOTOS: Hobo Spider season has arrived

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:37 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:37:17 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Mid August is about the time that we start to see spiders come into our homes, particularly the hobo spider. August and September is mating season for the hobo and that means you may be seeing more funnel-like webs in and around your home. Males are on a mission to find a female which is why they are a lot more active at this time.>>
    KHQ.COM - Mid August is about the time that we start to see spiders come into our homes, particularly the hobo spider. August and September is mating season for the hobo and that means you may be seeing more funnel-like webs in and around your home. Males are on a mission to find a female which is why they are a lot more active at this time.
    >>
  • 2-year-old hit by car, hospitalized

    2-year-old hit by car, hospitalized

    Saturday, August 30 2014 1:45 PM EDT2014-08-30 17:45:12 GMT
    KAMIAH, Idaho - Idaho State Police arrested a 38-year-old woman for driving intoxicated and hitting a 2-year-old with her car in the town of Kamiah Friday night. Police responded to the crash scene at 9:21. ISP said Sarkisian G. Farnham was driving north on Hill Street near the Kamiah High School. >>
    KAMIAH, Idaho - Idaho State Police arrested a 38-year-old woman for driving intoxicated and hitting a 2-year-old with her car in the town of Kamiah Friday night. Police responded to the crash scene at 9:21. ISP said Sarkisian G. Farnham was driving north on Hill Street near the Kamiah High School. >>
  • PHOTOS: Priest Lake lots auctioned off

    PHOTOS: Priest Lake lots auctioned off

    Thursday, August 28 2014 8:46 PM EDT2014-08-29 00:46:58 GMT
    PRIEST LAKE, Idaho - 61 cottages sites on Priest Lake were auctioned off in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday. >>
    PRIEST LAKE, Idaho - 61 cottages sites on Priest Lake were auctioned off in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday. For years, those already living on the sites leased the land from the State of Idaho, but the State was looking to sell. Residents already living on the sites showed up on Thursday to buy them back, and many were successful. 


    >>