Unemployment Trends

After August’s drop off in job gains, many economists feared that the recovery in the U.S. was slowing down. August only saw a gain of 142,000 jobs, almost a 90,000 decrease from the previous seven-month average of 226,000 jobs. However, today the Labor Department released its unemployment reports and there were a few numbers that could settle some qualms.

The amount of unemployment benefit applications has hit its second lowest level in the past 14 years. Economists were projecting that a there would be a total of 305,000 new applications, whereas the actual number was only 280,000. The four-week average of claims has been steadily around 300,000 since July. This is the first time since 2007 that the four-week average of claims has been this consistently low. Many see this as an indication that the general economic environment in the U.S. is still, in fact, steadily improving. Furthermore, the number of individuals actually receiving unemployment benefits is down 63,000 at a new post-recession low of 2.429 million people. GDP has also risen 4.2% in the second quarter, indicating a strong rebound after an under-performing first quarter.

Although, the unemployment numbers are positive, it means little unless the progress can be sustained. There is still a lot more job creation that needs to happen and prudent policy decisions are crucial in such a transitional time. Janet Yellen spoke on the issue today claiming that, “There are still too many people who want jobs but cannot find them. Too many who are working part time but would prefer full time work. And too many who are not searching for a job but would be if the labor market was stronger.”

  • Dylan Margolin