Jobless claims fell surprisingly in the report issued August 9, indicating that the jobs market may actually be improving despite an uptick in the unemployment rate in July. Claims dropped by 6000 to 361,000 during the week ending August 4. The Department of Labor report last week also showed an increase in payrolls in the July employment report.
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The forecast by surveyed economists had been for a rise in claims to 370,000. Employers are apparently seeing enough demand to keep workers on staff despite the concerns about Europe and the looming US fiscal cliff.
The range of claims estimates of economists surveyed was from 359,000 to 385,000. This report also should be free of any hangover from retooling closures by auto plants so the number may have more meaning as a result.
The unemployment rate has been above the 8% mark for the longest period since the post-World War II era. Forty-one states reported decreases in claims and 11 reported increases. The report has a one-week time lag.
The Fed issued a statement saying it will closely monitor job growth.
It expects growth to be moderate for the next few quarters, then to pick up gradually.