US Jobless Benefit Claims Edge Higher

Posted October 4th, 2012 at 12:30 pm (UTC-5)
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First-time claims for jobless benefits edged slightly higher in the U.S. last week, signaling the country's sluggish labor market is advancing only modestly.

The government said Thursday that initial requests for unemployment compensation increased 4,000 from the previous week to 367,000, a level economists says is consistent with weak job growth.

U.S. financial analysts and the country's presidential candidates — President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney — are awaiting Friday's key jobs report for September, the second to last monthly report before the November 6 election.

The state of the U.S. economy is the focal point of the contest between the Democratic incumbent and Mr. Romney, a wealthy businessman. They sparred repeatedly in their debate this week over who can boost hiring more over the next four years.

Economists are predicting that the American economy, the world's largest, added about 111,000 jobs in September. That would be an improvement over the weak 96,000 figure recorded in August, but not enough to cut the 8.1 percent U.S. jobless rate.

The country's unemployment rate has remained above 8 percent for 43 straight months and more than 12 million workers are unemployed. Forecasters are projecting the September jobless rate will remain at 8.1 percent or perhaps move higher to 8.2 percent.