US Unemployment Benefits Applications Up Sharply

unemployment benefitsAfter falling sharply two weeks ago, the number of people now seeking US unemployment benefits has risen significantly from 12,000 to 293,000. According to experts, although this rise occurred, the level of applications for unemployment stays close to precession levels, which shows hiring will probably stay healthy.

This rise in applications was seasonally adjusted as stated today by the US Labor Department. However, the four week average, which is a less volatile measure, dropped for the second week in a row to 298,500. Some states are experiencing less intense hits to include Michigan where applications were down almost 2,500 because of fewer wholesaler layoffs.

According to Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, the figures are extremely low and in fact, close to all-time lows when measured as share of payrolls. He adds that overall, robust job growth is anticipated in the coming months.

Two weeks ago, the number of applications had reached a 14-year low to 281,000. When looking at figures for the past year, the four-week average dropped 7.1%. Applications are a representation for layoffs, meaning that a fewer number of unemployment benefits indicate that employers are keeping their jobs, probably because of having confidence in the economy but it could also indicate a hiring boost.

Overall, the number of people currently receiving benefits rose from 7,000 to 2.4 million. Just one year ago, 3.9 million were receiving aid in the form of unemployment benefits, a number that dropped significantly in part based on extended benefits expiring. Throughout the summer, applications also fell steadily while job gains remained solid even though the month of August had a hiring slowdown.

In August 2014, approximately 142,000 jobs were added by employers, this according to the Labor Department. This number is down from an average of 212,000 from the prior 12 month period. In addition, the rate of unemployment fell from 6.2% to 6.1% but only because some people looking for work gave up. Also noted is that people are not counted as being unemployed by the government unless they are actively seeking employment.

According to the Labor Department, there are specific states with the biggest increases and decreases in applications for unemployment benefits.

States with the Biggest Decreases

• Michigan – Down 2,473
• New Jersey – Down 1,573

States with the Biggest Increases

• California – Up 5,269
• Missouri – Up 1,810
• Oregon – Up 1,691

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