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Unemployment Claims at Lowest Point in Eight Years, Continue to Fall

First Posted: Jul 24, 2014 04:18 PM EDT
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The U.S. Labor Department released its latest unemployment report on Thursday showing a decline in the number of claims -- a drop of 19,000 to the seasonally adjusted figure of 284,000. The report, based on claims for July 19 said this is the lowest level of claims since 2006. It also said claims for unemployment benefit have been falling for the past three months.

These figures come from unemployment insurance claims reported by state's unemployment insurance program offices. These figures don't include those whose unemployment insurance benefits have ceased.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending July 5 is 2.6 million, an increase of 165,383. A comparable figure a year ago was 4.8 million people around the same period.

The states with the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending July 12 were New York (+14,427), California (+11,126), Georgia (+6,112), Texas (+5,147), and Indiana (+4,748). 

In New York the layoffs were in transportation and warehousing, construction and public administration. In California the losses were in the service industry. In Georgia the layoffs were in manufacturing, administrative and support service, accommodation and food service, in Texas job losses were in manufacturing, support service and retail industries, and in Indiana in manufacturing.

There were fewer layoffs in Michigan (-6,846), New Jersey (-5,886), Kentucky (-1,673), Ohio (-1,552), and Massachusetts (-1,259). In Michigan there were less layoffs in manufacturing, in New Jersey in educational service, transportation and warehousing, food service and public administration. There were no details for Kentucky and Massachusetts but there were fewer layoffs in transportation in Ohio.

"Last month payrolls grew by 288,000 on net, the fifth consecutive month of payroll growth surpassing 200,000.  For the first half of 2014, payrolls were up 1.4 million jobs, the most first half-year growth in over a decade," said Jared Bernstein, senior fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee. "Unemployment is now down to 6.1 percent, the lowest it has been since late 2008 and 3.9 percentage points down from its peak of 10 percent in late 2009."

Bernstein also said there are drops, too in the figures for long-term unemployed, from 45 percent in late 2011 to 33% in 2014, and the underemployed, those with part-time jobs but wanting more work has fallen from its 2009 peak of 17.1% to 12.1 percent.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in a statement on the five-year anniversary of the last increase in the federal minimum wage said, "Since then, the cost of a gallon of milk, a week of child care, a month's rent and everything else a working family needs has gone up. But the federal minimum wage remains frozen at $7.25 per hour.

Perez added, "Too many people are working harder but falling further behind, and it's just plain wrong that men and women working full-time in America should have to raise their families in poverty."

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