Jobless Claims Remain Under 300,000 For 16th Consecutive Week

| by Ethan Brown

Jobless claims rose by 3,000 to 271,000 last week, on par with many predictions from economists continuing to analyze the effects of the sluggish workforce.

Despite a first-quarter setback, the economy is continuing to surpass expectations on some levels, including employer enthusiasm.

“Companies are holding onto their employees very tightly, and it shows a strong need for labor,” Russell Price, an economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc., said about the current job market.

“That implies very positive trends for job growth in the months and quarters ahead,” he continued, according to Bloomberg News.

Price predicted 272,000 jobless claims for the week, on par with the Labor Department’s official numbers that were released on Thursday, Bloomberg News noted.

Jobless claims have remained under 300,000 for 16 consecutive weeks, and the end of the first quarter shows signs that the economy's improvements will hold steady.

Consumer spending is also increasing, with purchases climbing 0.9 percent during the month of May, the highest since August 2009. Personal income also climbed by 0.5 percent for the second month in a row.

However, the number of people continuing to receive unemployment assistance continues to rise, up to 2.25 million in the week that ended on June 13.

While nonfarm payroll figures increased by 280,000, showcasing a stronger position for employers to continuing hiring, a major corporation announced plans to eliminate hundreds of jobs.

Hershey Co., based in Pennsylvania, will eliminate 300 jobs by the end of the year, blaming a weaker economy in China. According to the company, the layoffs will save Hershey $75 million next year before taxes.

The Federal Reserve has been watching jobless figures and economy progress closely over the last several months in order to make a final decision on whether interest rates should be raised for the first time since 2006.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said that the economy’s progress is not sufficient enough for an increase in the rate just yet.

“The participation rate remains below most estimates of its underlying trend, involuntary part-time employment remains elevated, and wage growth remains relatively subdued," Yellen said at a press conference on June 17. "Although progress clearly has been achieved, room for further improvement remains."

Sources: CNBC, Bloomberg News

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