Wall Street Journal (12/24/14) Eric Morath; Jonathan House
The number of Americans receiving jobless benefits has dropped by nearly 2 million over the past year. The elimination of an expanded benefits program in December 2013 cut benefits to about 1.4 million Americans, but steady improvements in the labor market have reduced layoffs and resulted in another 500,000 people being removed from state unemployment benefit programs.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 2.4 million people received unemployment assistance during the first week of December, marking a decline of 40% from the same week last year. Moreover, only 280,000 Americans applied for initial unemployment benefits last week, up just slightly from the 14-year low achieved in early October. According to John Ryding, an economist at RDQ Economics, “It shows how reluctant firms are to lay off labor at the present. As the labor market gets tighter, skilled workers are harder to find and companies hold on to the workers that they have.”
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