The number of applications for unemployment insurance increased on a weekly basis at the beginning of February, but year-over-year trends in the segment and other positive economic indicators highlight optimism when it comes to the U.S. job market.

UI weekly claims see spike
The U.S. Department of Labor reported on Feb. 13 that seasonally-adjusted initial unemployment insurance claims reached 339,000 for the week ending Feb. 8. That represents an increase of 8,000 from the week prior, while the four-week average also rose, hitting 336,750 at that time.

Two specific types of employees noted an uptick in claims – former Federal civilian workers and newly discharged veterans. The latter had filed 30,723 initial claims for the week ending Jan. 25, up 164 week-over-week, while 23,095 Federal civilian employees had claimed benefits by that time, up 1,492. For states, the largest increases in unemployment claims for the week ending Feb. 1 were in Wisconsin, at 5,041, and New York, at 4,830. Close behind were Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ohio.

While these statistics appear to be fluctuating, the numbers are still in line with predictions for the sector, according to The Associated Press. Overall, most organizations are cutting fewer jobs, and recent poor weather could have contributed to any increases. For instance, construction firms across the country may have stopped operating as winter storms and dropping temperatures encompassed the nation.

Unemployment rate declines in December
In addition to the relatively good news related to unemployment insurance claims, there are also positive reports regarding the jobless rate in the U.S. as a whole.

Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that the unemployment rate was lower in December when compared to the same time in 2012, across a majority of metropolitan areas. Nationally, the jobless rate for the month was 6.5 percent, down year-over-year from 7.6 percent. However, several regions still had fairly high numbers. For example, Yuma, Ariz., had a rate of 27.1 percent, while El Centro, Calif., had one at 22.5 percent. On the other hand, cities like Bismarck, N.D., and Logan, Utah-Idaho had the lowest, tied at 2.8 percent each.

Both of these recent reports provide plenty of good news for businesses and employees across the country. A more stable economic outlook could signal better conditions for companies, which means added financial stability to help support a growing workforce.


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