Unemployment Benefits: What You Need To Know About The New Numbers

Claims for unemployment benefits have dropped again this week, down to 346,000 from 355,000 last week — and consumer spending is up slightly on pace with a slowly recovering economy.

The number of unemployment benefits claims dipped 9,000 last week from the previous week’s numbers, and spending rose a modest 0.3 percent after a revised 0.3 dip in April. (It was originally reported to be down 0.2 percent.)

Due to fluctuations in week to week unemployment benefits claims numbers, the four-week moving average — a metric that anchors numbers more firmly — dropped by 2,750 to 345,750.

Monthly job gains are averaging 172,000 per month, Reuters reports, and last month, 175,000 new jobs were added to payrolls.

The rate of unemployment rose one tenth of one percentage point, hitting 7.6 percent. The newswire adds:

“Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank could trim the $85 billion in bonds it has been buying each month to keep interest rates low and bolster the economy sometime later this year and likely bring the program to a close by mid-2014.

“The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid fell 1,000 to 2.965 million in the week ended June 15.”

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USA Today indicates that while modest gains in reduction of unemployment benefits claims are heartening, Americans are not out of the woods yet.

According to the paper, slower than necessary growth will reduce in summer months, and economic boosts will level off:

“However, job growth of more than 200,000 jobs a month is what’s really needed to kick-start economic growth. Steady job gains could help the economy expand later this year. Growth was only 1.8% at an annual rate in the first quarter, the government said Wednesday, below the expected 2.4% pace … The economy is likely expanding at a tepid pace in the April-June quarter, economists estimate. That could make it difficult for employers to keep adding workers.”

As unemployment benefits claims drop again, consumer confidence was reported to be at a five-year high.