Jobless claims still high in US after recession

Ben Southwood
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NEW US jobless claims fell slightly in the final week of January, according to data out yesterday.

New unemployment insurance applications were 366,000 in the week ending 2 February, according to the seasonally-adjusted measure, the Department of Labor said, down 5,000 on a week earlier.

But the level remained within touching distance with the number of claims made in the same week a year ago – 371,000 – suggesting the labour market still hasn’t made a full recovery almost five years after the depths of the recession.

And total insured unemployment data out yesterday, for the week ending 26 January, showed a yet less encouraging picture, with the balance edging up 8,000 to 3,224,000. However, this figure – also seasonally adjusted – was some 295,000 lower than the during the equivalent period last year.

This came as separate figures out yesterday revealed the fourth quarter saw the biggest productivity crash amongst non-farm workers for two years.

Productivity slumped at a two per cent annualised rate, well above forecasts of around 1.3 per cent, the Department of Labor said.