WASHINGTON (AP) — Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits rose by 18,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 354,000. Despite the gain, the level remains consistent with moderate job growth.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average increased by 2,500 to 348,250.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Since January, they have fallen 6 percent. That suggests companies are cutting fewer jobs.
At the same time, hiring has been steady, despite an increase in taxes on Jan. 1 and steep federal spending cuts that began in March. Solid consumer spending and a rebound in housing have helped the economy weather the fiscal drag.
Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said the increase in applications makes it less likely that hiring will accelerate this month but job growth remains moderate.
"The overall U.S. labor market is improving," Lee said.
Employers added 175,000 jobs in May, nearly matching the average monthly gain for the past year. The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent, but for a good reason: More Americans were confident they could find work and began searching for a job.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday offered a brighter outlook for the job market and economy. Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed is likely to reduce its bond purchases later this year and end them in the middle of next year if the economy continues to strengthen.
The Fed expects the unemployment rate will fall to between 6.5 percent and 6.8 percent by the end of 2014. That's lower than their March forecast of 6.7 percent to 7 percent.
About 4.5 million Americans received unemployment benefits in the week ending June 1, the latest data available. That's 18,000 more than the previous week. But the number of recipients has fallen 28 percent in the past year. Some have likely gotten jobs, but many have used up all the benefits available.
The Labor Department said last week that more Americans quit their jobs in April compared with March. That points to confidence in the job market, since most workers don't quit until they have another job or are sure they can find one. More quits also opens up jobs for other workers, or the unemployed, to take.
Also last week, a survey of chief executives at the largest U.S. companies showed that they are more optimistic about sales in the next six months and plan to add more workers.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Jameis Winston quickly emerged as one of college football's biggest stars because of his brilliant play, while also charming Florida State fans with his smile and natural charisma.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama State University is interviewing three finalists for its presidency.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled the state prison system can charge work release inmates for providing transportation to their jobs and other associated costs.
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers increased their spending in October even though their wages and salaries barely increased, raising questions about how strong the economy will grow at the end of the year.
A little more than two years ago, Henry Josey ripped his left knee to shreds making a cut. He tore the ACL, MCL and patellar tendon on a 2-yard gain against Texas at home, an injury so extensive Missouri coach Gary Pinkel thought it looked…
Family and friends gathered outside the home of Neketa Shepherd Thursday to remember her sister, Michelle Shepherd, who was shot and killed following an Iron Bowl party in Hoover on November 30th.
Global civil rights icon Nelson Mandela, whose legacy is ending South African apartheid, has died.
At a meeting Thursday night, the cemetery plot maps of George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens were available for viewing.