New Applications for Jobless Claims Exceed Predictions

Written by: John Landers

The Department of Labor reports that more Americans than anticipated filed initial jobless claims applications for the week ending March 30. According to the release, applications for claims increase by 28,002 to 385,000 compared to the prior week revised figure of 357,000.

The weekly survey of Bloomberg economists anticipated a drop to a median figure of 353,000, but the indicator reached its highest level since November 24.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, jobless claims decreased by nearly 1,600.The four-week moving average of jobless claims increased to 354,250 from 343,000.

Brian Jones, a senior economist for Societe Generale (New York) accurately forecasted the number of applications said that “seasonal adjustment quirks” led to a higher figure. “Next week, we expect claims to come right back down. The labor market is OK, it’s fine,” said Jones.

Other Report Data

On Friday, the Labor Department will release its Job Situation summary. Bloomberg economists expect the report to show that companies added 195,000 workers to March payrolls compared to 236,000 new hires in February. Estimates made by the 47 economists range from 330,000 to 400,000 new jobs. Respondents also anticipate the unemployment rate remaining on hold at the current rate of 7.7%.

The number of Americans receiving jobless benefits dropped by 8,000–from 3,071,000 to a figure of 3,063,000 for the week ending March 23. This figure does not include the number of Americans who receive extended benefits under federal unemployment compensation programs.

Individuals who used up their standard jobless claim benefits may collect emergency and extended payments. That number decrease by 106,688, dropping to 8.040 million week ending March 16. The report shows that individuals who are eligible for benefits had an unemployment rate of 2.4% in the week ending March 23. This figure usually follows the jobless rate.

The total of individuals receiving benefit from all programs decreased by 167,165 to 5,288,614 for the week ending March 16. At the same point in 2012, 7,050,710 people received jobless claims benefits.

For the reporting period, 29 states and territories registered an increase in benefit claims. Twenty-four states and territories reported a drop in initial claims. California, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, and Pennsylvania recorded the highest increases for initial claims.

Economy Holding Steady

Economists aren’t as concerned about layoffs, which have stabilized over the last few months, but it is economic growth that receives the most attention. Consumer demand, which accounts for 70% of the domestic economy, has been somewhat stable. Consumers receive much of the credit for keeping the economy from retreating back into a recession as businesses have been slow to inject much needed capital investment in the  economy.

Some analysts are betting that growing demand will help the employment market weather the impact of sequestration—the budget cuts that automatically went into effect  when politicians failed reach an accord regarding U.S. deficit issues.

JP Morgan Chase economists predict that the data will show a 3.8% percent annual growth rate for the economy in first quarter of 2013. They expect more tempered expansion of about 1.5% for the second quarter.


New Applications for Jobless Claims Exceed...

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