First-time applications for jobless claims rose last week, but economists are encouraged that the figures were less than expected, Bloomberg reports today. Claims grew by 4,000 to 319,000—still well short of the 325,000 applications expected. The numbers suggest that the labor market isn’t collapsing, despite slower growth and a spate of industry troubles.
But the outlook is not all roses: Employers reeling from troubled housing and credit markets have reduced hiring and payrolls, while Americans may be taking longer to find jobs. "The economy is not out of the woods because of the massive subprime job cuts in the pipeline,'' one economist said. The average number of people on unemployment also hit the highest level since January 2006.