Applications for US jobless aid likely rose last week, but still point to job growth

MarketsAssociated Press

The U.S. Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. The report will be released Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

MODEST RISE: Economists forecast that weekly applications rose 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 298,000, according to a survey by FactSet. That slight increase has little impact on a protracted trend of fewer people seeking jobless aid, putting the number of claims near seven-year lows.

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Over the past 12 months, the number of people collecting benefits has fallen 14.3 percent, to 2.46 million.

Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. The decline over the past year suggests that employers are keeping their workers, likely because they expect continued economic growth and may be contemplating more hires.

JOBS REPORT: The drop in applications has corresponded with stronger job gains for much of 2014.

Employers added just 142,000 jobs in August, according to the Labor Department, down from an average of 212,000 in the preceding 12 months. It was the end of a six-month streak of monthly job gains in excess of 200,000. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent, but only because some of those out of work gave up looking. The government doesn't count people as unemployed unless they are actively searching.

Still, economists say the government's September jobs figures being released Friday will show a rebound from the August decline. Their consensus forecast is that the government report will show that employers added 215,000 jobs last month.

In a separate report released Wednesday, payroll processer ADP said Wednesday that private employers added 213,000 jobs in September.