Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) When unemployment benefit applications drop consistently below 375,000, it usually signals that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate. The decline has coincided with the best three months of hiring in two years.
U.S., Utah weekly unemployment aid applications decline
Benefits » First-time applications lowest since September 2008.
First Published Mar 29 2012 07:18 am • Last Updated Mar 29 2012 09:09 pm

The number of people seeking Utah unemployment benefits dropped last week to a three-and-a-half-year low, a strong hint that the state’s jobless levels are returning to pre-recession conditions.

First-time applications fell by 80, to 1,572 — the lowest level since September 2008, when the recession was less than a year old and unemployment was rising, according to figures released Thursday by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

There was a note of caution in the numbers, though. The four-week average, which smooths out weekly volatility in the numbers, also fell, but remained above the weekly count. The average declined by 31 applications to 1,786, the smallest number in the past six months.

Still, the numbers bode well for Utah’s slowly healing economy, said Mark Knold, the department’s chief economist.

"These numbers are starting to get close to the amount of layoffs you saw on a weekly basis when the economy was good," Knold said. "What these numbers are implying is that the amount of layoffs that occurred during the recessionary setback is ending. These levels are getting to a point where you can almost close the book on that."

Knold expects new claims to fall further in coming weeks. But he isn’t certain that the worst period of layoffs to rock Utah since the 1930s is completely over.

"I’d like to see a few more weeks of this to put a little oomph in what I’ve said."

Nationally, claims for unemployment benefits also dropped last week.

The Labor Department says weekly unemployment benefit applications fell 5,000, to a seasonally adjusted 359,000. That’s the smallest number of applicants since April 2008. The four-week average declined to 365,000.

The department also made its annual revisions to the past five years of unemployment benefit data. The revisions significantly increased the number of unemployment benefit applicants in recent months. But the downward trend remains intact.


story continues below
story continues below

When unemployment benefit applications drop consistently below 375,000, it usually signals that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate. The decline has coincided with the best three months of hiring in two years.

From December through February, employers added an average of 245,000 jobs per month. That has pushed down the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent, the lowest in three years.

Companies are hiring more because the economy appears to be picking up. The economy grew at an annual rate of 3 percent in the final three months of last year. That was better than the 1.8 percent rate in the previous quarter.

One concern is that rising gas prices will force consumers to cut back on discretionary spending. That could weigh on economic growth and slow hiring. The Federal Reserve says it expects oil and gas prices to temporarily boost inflation but predicts that longer-term inflation should remain stable.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.