Jobless claims, March 19, 2010, Small decline, Little evidence companies are ready to hire, 457,000 from 462,000, Economists predicted 455,000

Jobless claims, March 19, 2010, Small decline

From Market Watch, March 18, 2010.

“Weekly jobless claims decline 5,000 to 457,000”

“The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell by 5,000 in the latest week, marking the third straight drop, but there’s little evidence companies are ready to hire at a pace that would sharply reduce the nation’s high jobless rate.
In the week ended March 13, initial claims dropped to a seasonally-adjusted 457,000 from 462,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch predicted claims would subside to 455,000. See our complete economic calendar.
The four-week average of initial claims — a better gauge of employment trends than the volatile weekly number — fell by 4,250 to 471,250.”

“”Claims first reached their current level nearly four months ago, in late November, and the lack of progress since then is disconcerting,” Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics wrote in an email.

Many companies are leery of hiring new workers until they see demand pick up. Some are also awaiting the outcome of legislative battles in Washington over issues such as health care, energy and taxes. Major changes in those arenas could significantly impact the cost of hiring new workers.

Jobless claims “are not yet at levels typically associated with payroll growth,” John Ryding of RDQ Economics said. Ryding estimates weekly claims would have to fall to 400,000 or lower to signify a hiring trend.

Meanwhile, the number of people who continue to get regular state unemployment checks rose by 12,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 4.58 million in the week ended March 6. That’s the most recent data available.”

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