Jobs and Layoffs: Bad Now, Better Than Last Year

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There’s at least a small case for optimism in the initial jobless claims report issued by the United States Department of Labor on Thursday. Claims for the week ending December 1 fell 6.3 percent week over week to 370,000, slightly beating the expectations of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, who predicted a drop to 380,000 claims.

The four-week moving average, a more stable and often more accurate reflection of the employment environment in the U.S., rose 0.5 percent to 408,000. The overall unemployment rate remains at 7.9 percent.

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Hurricane Sandy continues to relentlessly find its way into economic data coming out of the affected region, but New Jersey posted one of the highest drops in jobless claims for the period. The state supplied a comment that reads: “There are fewer storm related claims; primarily from the construction, transportation and warehousing, manufacturing, trade, and accommodation and food service industries.”

There were 3.21 million people receiving jobless benefits as of the week ending November 24.

The Challenger Job-Cut Report released on Thursday indicates that job cuts increased for the third straight month in November. Employers announced their intention to cut just over 57,000 people from their payrolls, a 20 percent increase from last month and a 34 percent increase year over year. Novembers cuts were spearheaded by the 18,500 losses triggered by the shuttering of Hostess Brands. 

The report points out that employers have cut 490,806 jobs this year to date. However, despite the accelerated pace of job cuts toward the end of the year, this figure is still 13 percent below the year-to-date total of 564,297 cuts for the same period last year.

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