Jobless Claims Up in September

Written by: John Landers

For week ending September 29, the Labor Department reports jobless claims up in September as 4,000 more Americans filed applications for jobless benefits, increasing the seasonally adjusted figure to 367,000.  The median figures among the economist survey ranged between 365,000 and 370,000. The Labor Department also revised initial claims from two weeks ago up (359,000 to 363,000) after receiving more complete data from states.

The four-week moving average for new jobless claim applications remained stable at 365,000. Economists prefer this moving average because it’s less volatile and provides finer measurement of the employment picture.

Other Employment Metrics

The number of job cuts in the government sector dropped 88 percent, from 119,027 job cuts through the first nine months of 2011 to 14,186 through the end of Q3 2012. Moving forward, employers paint a positive picture with plans to hire 425,683 workers. Seasonal retail and the food industry will make up over 97 percent of the new hires.

Some economist expects the Labor Department job report, scheduled for release on Friday, to show an increase in nonfarm payroll from 96,000 jobs created in August to 113,000 in September. In addition, the unemployment rate may rise from 8.1% to 8.2%.

Some economists believe the pace of job layoffs bodes well for future hiring. However, making employers comfortable enough to begin hiring workers at a higher rate hinges on Congress resolving looming domestic economic problems. If policy makers cannot find a resolution to the fiscal crisis, tax increases and budget cuts will automatically go into effect at the beginning of 2013.

Insights into Planned Layoffs

Another way of looking at the jobless data is planned layoffs. In August, this metric declined to a 20-year low as companies announced 32,239 job cuts. Although the figure increased by 4.9% in September, a loss of 33,816 jobs, it sits at a 15-year low, according to consultants and job placement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

With jobless claims up in September, the job cuts represent a 71 percent decline over 2011. Last September, employers announced 115,730 cuts.  Through the first, second and third quarters of 2012, companies have cut 386,001 jobs from the workforce — a 19 percent year-over-year decrease. In comparison, through the same period in 2011, employers cut 479,064 jobs.

The industries losing the most jobs include telecommunications and computer technology firms. The energy, healthcare, and hospitality sectors show the most strength when it comes to adding jobs.

The  CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, John Challenger summed up why even with layoffs at pre-recession levels employers cannot create the 200,000 jobs needed each month to  lower the unemployment rate. ” A combination of factors, including the upcoming election, ongoing instability in Europe, growing signs of weakness in Asia and a host of other issues, are keeping companies from making any major expansion or hiring moves,” said Challenger.


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Jobless Claims Up in September

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