Not since January 2008 has the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid been lower than the 324,000 seasonally adjusted unemployment insurance claims filed during the week ending April 27. The fall is largely attributed to a drop in layoffs and possibly more hiring. According to the Labor Department, the number of weekly applications decreased to 18,000 as the four-week average dipped by 16,000 to 342,250.
Current estimates indicate that the economy added about 160,000 jobs in April, nearly twice the 66,000 jobs added in March, but notably lower than last year’s 185,000. This rate of growth is expected to leave the unemployment rate unchanged at 7.6 percent. Weeks with no more than 350,000 applications for unemployment aid tend to be consistent with moderate hiring but may point to a more negative jobs picture.
For example, ADP has reported that companies added only 119,000 jobs in April while a large survey of manufacturers indicates particular measure of employment experienced a sharp drop last month. And though many companies have been advertising more jobs, they have been very slow to fill the positions. As job openings rose by 11 percent between February 2012 and February 2013, the number of people hired actually declined, according to the Labor Department.
During Q1 2013, the economy grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent, a vast improvement over Q4 2012 growth of 0.4 percent. However, a majority of economists expect growth to slow to no higher than 2 percent during the current quarter.