chron.comNews, search and shopping from the Houston Chronicle
Apr 10, 9:02 AM EDT

Applications for US jobless aid dip 32K to 300,000


AP Photo
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Business Video

Multimedia
A district summary of the Beige Book
Measuring economic stress by county nationwide
Mall malaise: shoppers browse, but don't buy
Unemployment by the numbers
Family struggles with father's unemployment
Saying an affordable goodbye
Hard times hit small car dealer
Latest Economic News
China's growth slows to 7.4 percent in 1Q

US stock markets rebounds after choppy day

How the Dow Jones industrial average fared Tuesday

Coca-Cola and MasterCard are big market movers

Stocks end higher, extending a modest rally

US stocks drift lower at midday; Homebuilders sink

Stocks head higher in early trade; J&J gains

US stocks headed for modestly higher open

German economic confidence slips on Ukraine worry

US retail sales up strong 1.1 percent in March

Buy AP Photo Reprints

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level in almost seven years, falling 32,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 300,000.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 4,750 to 316,250.

Fewer Americans sought benefits last week than at any point since the Great Recession began at the end of 2007. Applications are at their lowest level since May of that year.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The decrease suggests that employers expect stronger economic growth in the coming months and are holding onto their workers.

But Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, cautioned that the drop-off might be smaller than it appears. He noted that the Easter holiday, which moves from year-to-year, might have distorted the seasonal adjustments.

"We need to see a few more weeks' numbers before we can be sure where the trend now stands," Shepherdson said in a client note. "Our core view is that claims are drifting gently downwards."

Employers added 192,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department said last week. That follows gains of 197,000 in February, as the unemployment rate stayed at 6.7 percent for the second straight month.

Snowstorms and freezing temperatures in January and December shut down factories, kept shoppers away from stores, and reduced home buying. That cut into growth and hiring. Employers added 144,000 jobs in January and only 84,000 in December.

More jobs and higher incomes will be needed to spur better overall economic growth. For now, economists expect the bad weather contributed to weak growth of 1.5 percent to 2 percent at an annual rate in the January-March quarter. But as the weather improves, most analysts expect growth to rebound to near 3 percent.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Free Online Games | SAP Jobs | Increase Traffic | Sod Blog