US applications for jobless benefits dip to 282k; sign employers are shrugging off slow winter In this Friday, Feb. 6, 2015 photo, U.S. Armed Forces veterans attend the annual Veterans Career and Resource Fair in Miami. The Labor Department reported on Thursday, March 26, 2015, that fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits a week earlier, evidence that strong hiring should continue despite signs of slower economic growth at the start of 2015. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz) by Josh Boak, The Associated Press Posted Mar 26, 2015 6:43 am MDT WASHINGTON – Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, evidence that strong hiring should continue despite signs of slower economic growth at the start of 2015.The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for jobless aid fell 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000. The decrease suggests that a recent slowdown in manufacturing, housing starts and retail sales have not trickled into the job market, a possible indication that economic growth will rebound after a harsh winter.The four-week average, a less volatile measure, tumbled 7,750 to 297,000. Over the past 12 months, the average has dipped roughly 7 per cent.Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The relatively low average shows that employers are holding onto workers and may increase hiring. Applications below 300,000 are generally consistent with solid monthly job gains.The economy has been struck by some setbacks during a frigid February. Factories cranked out fewer long-lasting goods, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Builders broke ground on fewer homes last month, while retail spending has fallen.Those reports indicate that growth will be dramatically lower than its annual average of 2.2 per cent during the final three months of last year, which was already a decrease from growth averaging more than 4 per cent in the middle of 2014.The Atlanta Federal Reserve forecasts that first-quarter growth will be at an annualized rate of 0.2 per cent. Private firm Macroeconomic Advisers estimated somewhat more optimistically on Tuesday growth of 1.4 per cent.Still, as layoffs have dipped, job growth has soared. In each of the past 12 months, employers have added at least 200,000 jobs. The gains totalled 295,000 in February.The job growth has slashed the unemployment rate to 5.5 per cent from 6.7 per cent a year ago.However, wages have yet to rise significantly, limiting the benefits to the overall economy from the additional jobs. Average hourly wages have climbed just 2 per cent over the past 12 months. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email

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