Applications For Unemployment Aid at Lowest Level in FIFTY YEARS


The fewest people in nearly 50 years sought unemployment benefits last week, a sign of a strong job market and an unusually low level of layoffs.

Yet the sinking pace of layoffs isn’t due solely to a tight employment picture. Many states have imposed stricter rules on their unemployment insurance programs, from making it harder to qualify to reducing the duration of benefits to cutting payouts.

The combined effect has been to reduce the number of unemployed people who apply for and receive aid, economists say. Nationwide, just 30% of people out of work now receive unemployment insurance, down from about 40% before the Great Recession.

Weekly applications for unemployment benefits dropped 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 196,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday . That is the lowest level since 1969. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 207,000, the also lowest point in 50 years.

The decline is all the more remarkable once you take into account population growth. The size of America’s workforce, excluding government workers who typically aren’t eligible, has more than doubled since the late 1960s to 128 million.

Still, the dwindling pace of unemployment claims is sending a signal of strength about the job market and the economy. Applications for jobless aid closely track the pace of layoffs. So the continuing decline — applications have tumbled for four straight weeks — shows that most businesses are confident enough about future customer demand to keep their staffs intact.

That confidence is spurring more hiring, too: Job growth rebounded last month after a sharp slowdown in February, suggesting that the economy remains resilient in its 10th year of expansion.

Early this year, many analysts were concerned that growth was stalling, with the global economy weakening, the Trump administration and China locked in a trade war, and consumers reining in their spending, as the benefits of the Trump administration’s tax cut have faded. Most Americans got a financial boost last year from the tax cut, but it was a one-time bump.

But the historically low level of applications for unemployment benefits indicates that few employers foresee a slowdown anytime soon.

At the same time, nine states — Florida, Michigan, Kansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Idaho, Missouri, and Arkansas — have cut the number of weeks recipients can receive aid. Florida and North Carolina have reduced it to as low as 12 weeks. Before the Great Recession, every state provided at least 26 weeks.

The historically low figures “tell us we have a strong labor market, and that we’ve made policy changes that mean fewer people can qualify for benefits,” said Martha Gimbel, research director at job listings website Indeed.

Another factor is that long-term unemployment remains much higher now than in previous periods when the unemployment rate fell as low as last month’s figure of 3.8%. People who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more aren’t eligible for unemployment aid.

In March, 21% of people out of work had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. The last time the unemployment rate fell below 4%, in 2000, the proportion was about half that. And in 1969, less than 5% of those out of work were long-term unemployed.



  1. Which means for the American economy to keep growing we need more workers. While we can produce them ourselves its takes decades from getting married to having produced a functioning worker, so that doesn’t help the immediate problem. THe only other alternative is to import workers, which runs against Trump’s opposition to immigration. If American businesses can’t find enough workers, they have to export the jobs to countries that have unused labor for rent.

  2. 1. Trump’s policies are making it hard for anyone regardless of skills

    2. Many of the jobs we need to fill do not require education and technical skills. We need schleppers and farm labor perhaps even more than engineers or scientists.

    3. We should go back to the policy of letting anyone in as long as they stay off welfare and out of jail. It worked in the 19th century and led to rapid growth.

  3. akuperma, it’s funny how you can twist any pro-Trump and pro-America article. I can see you twisting a future 3rd Beis Hamikdash in Yerushalayim as being a bad thing for the agriculture and farming industry. Your third point is completely against the ideas and proposals of the 2019 Democrat party, as they believe in ultimately little to zero regulation and control over immigration policies or border protection. Your first point is an oxymoron because jobs from various industries and sectors are picking up; especially in the coal and mining industries which Hillary wanted to cremate.

  4. ““When somebody says like the person you just mentioned who I’m not going to advertise for, that he’s going to bring all these jobs back. Well how exactly are you going to do that? What are you going to do? There’s uh-uh no answer to it. He just says. “I’m going to negotiate a better deal.” Well how? How exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually the answer is, he doesn’t have an answer.”

    Barack Hussein Obama: June 2016