Americans seeking unemployment aid declined to 340,000 claims for the week ending March 2. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that applications for benefits fell by 7,000, also near five-year lows, which were reached this past January. The four-week average declined to 348,750, the lowest number since 2008. The continuing decline offers further evidence that economists’ projections of February hiring were actually lower than real hiring for the month.
Payroll services provider ADP also recently reported on the apparent health state of hiring in February when businesses added 198,000 jobs following January’s revised hiring numbers up 23,000 to 215,000. The number of people currently receiving unemployment aid dropped to 5.4 million for the week ending February 16, a fall of 362,000 claims from the prior week. Strengthening car sales and continually recovering housing market is contributing to increased hiring and overall economic growth.
Despite the effects of higher taxes and spending cuts, businesses continue to lay off fewer workers. However, the 2 percent increase in Social Security taxes and the $85 billion in government spending cuts could slow the economy and lead to 700,000 lost jobs and may also reduce unemployment checks by 11 percent. The average unemployment check is approximately $320 per week.