the republic logo

Applications for US unemployment benefits jump, though remain at historically low levels

bug
Share/Save/Bookmark

WASHINGTON — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped last week, though it is still at relatively low levels pointing to healthy hiring.

Applications rose 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The increase comes two weeks after applications plunged by 42,000. That drop likely reflected seasonal volatility stemming from the end of the holiday shopping season and the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, when state unemployment offices were closed.

The four-week average, which smooths out some of the volatility, fell to 289,750. That is down 14 percent from a year ago.

PHOTO: In this photo taken Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, U.S. Army Veteran Fareed Farraj fills out a job application at the annual Veterans Career and Resource Fair in Miami. The U.S. Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
In this photo taken Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, U.S. Army Veteran Fareed Farraj fills out a job application at the annual Veterans Career and Resource Fair in Miami. The U.S. Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. The average has been near or below 300,000 since September, a historically low level that points to strong hiring. Employers have added more than a million jobs in the past three months, the fastest pace in 17 years.

The number of Americans receiving benefits fell 51,000 to 2.35 million, the fewest in six weeks.

More than 3.2 million jobs have been created in the past year. That's helped lower the unemployment rate to 5.7 percent in January from 6.6 percent 12 months earlier.

More paychecks means more Americans have money to spend, boosting economic growth.

And average hourly pay rose 0.5 percent last month, the most in six years, the Labor Department said Friday. While economists cautioned against reading too much into one month's figure, it suggested employers may finally feel the need to raise wages to attract new workers and keep the ones they have.

Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!

Story copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Feedback, Corrections and Other Requests: AP welcomes feedback and comments from readers. Send an email to info@ap.org and it will be forwarded to the appropriate editor or reporter.


We also have more stories about:
(click the phrases to see a list)

Category:

Follow The Republic:

All content copyright ©2015 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved. Privacy policy.