Jobless Claims Rise Amid Little Job Growth
First-time jobless claims rose by 13,000 last week to 472,000, again calling attention to further weakness in the employment sector and the floundering economy.
The jump means since the start of 2010, the number of first-time jobless claims has risen 4%, according to the latest data from the US Labor Department.
The rise was a surprise to most who had anticipated a dip in the number as some signs indicated at least a shallow recovery. But pressures from declining consumer confidence, coupled with businesses unsure on future increases in employment taxes, have left new jobs few and far between.
According to CBS MarketWatch, the more important four-week average of initial claims, which is less volatile than the weekly reports, rose by 3,250 to 466,500, the highest level in almost three months.
With the unemployment rate nationwide near 10% for the second year in a row, there is little hope of a jobs recovery anytime soon. Factoring in the functionally unemployed, those who are working jobs outside of their education or experience, and those who have given up or fallen off unemployment benefit rolls, the effective unemployment rate in the United States is closer to 17%, say many analysts.
"It's looking more and more like the job market is treading water. Layoffs are down from 2009, but hiring hasn't really picked up and this is disappointing," Stephen Bronars, a senior economist at Welch Consulting in Washington, told Reuters. "There is a lot of uncertainty on the hiring side that's causing things to remain sluggish. In order for the recovery to give people confidence it needs to cut across different sectors of the economy."
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All of this of course highlights debate around whether the nearly $1 billion recovery package pushed and passed by the Obama Administration has had any effect. While some sectors have seen encouraging signs, the job market continues to languish and that is usually the leading indicator of economic recovery.