US Jobless Benefit Claims Fall

Posted September 1st, 2011 at 9:35 am (UTC-5)
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Fewer unemployed Americans made their first claims for financial assistance last week, but there was no immediate indication that U.S. companies are hiring substantial numbers of new workers.

The U.S. government said Thursday that 409,000 jobless workers applied for unemployment compensation, down from 421,000 the previous week. The applications for aid have fallen from an eight-month high of 478,000 in April, but last week’s total was still well above the 375,000 figure that some economists say indicates that employers are adding significant numbers of jobs to their payrolls.

About 14 million American workers are unemployed. The nation’s unemployment rate has hovered around 9 percent for more than two years. The government is set to release the August jobless rate on Friday and analysts are predicting that July’s 9.1 percent rate remained the same last month.

The U.S. added 117,000 jobs in July, a figure some forecasters say diminished to 70,000 in August. Federal officials say the country’s economy, the world’s largest, is slowing and is only adding about half the number of jobs it was earlier in the year. Employers added an average of 204,000 new jobs a month in the January to April period.

President Barack Obama plans to outline a new jobs plan in a speech next Thursday to Congress. The fate of his re-election bid next year may largely hinge on whether he can successfully boost the country’s economy and cut the unemployment rate.

Surveys show that a large majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of the American economy. But the polls also show that he remains in a virtual deadheat against several Republican contenders looking to oust him.