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April 26, 2012

Initial Jobless Claims Increase (Again)

by Jason Grote

Many folks who track the economy and root wildly for its recovery know that the first thing to look at is housing and jobs.  I had really hoped that the mild winter we experienced across the US would translate into great gains in the labor market.  Indeed, we saw increase in payrolls growth and lowered claims for jobless benefits in recent months, but now we are flattening out.  Perhaps spring came early in the labor market?  We already shed the jobs we didn’t need and added the ones we did?

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits for the April 21 week dropped by 1,000 to 388,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.  Only a reduction of 1,000 claims… that’s really disappointing.  Maybe we are getting the payback for the great gains we experienced in Q4 2011 and Q1 2012.

“It’s certainly disturbing that we are not seeing these numbers heading down,” said Beth Ann Bovino, an economist at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services in New York.

A Labor Department official said there was nothing unusual in the state-level data in the claims report.

Following the Federal Open Market Committee meeting Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on said the U.S. central bank “would not hesitate” to launch another round of bond purchases to drive borrowing costs lower if it looked like the economy needed it.

6.68 million people were claiming unemployment benefits in the week that ended April 7th.

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