More Americans unexpectedly filed claims for jobless benefits last week, indicating companies are trying to cut costs further even as the economy stabilizes.
Applications rose to 576,000 in the week ended Aug. 15 from a revised 561,000 the week before, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The number of people collecting unemployment benefits the week earlier was little changed at 6.24 million.
Companies may keep paring staff in coming months, albeit at a slower pace, and hiring linked to the government’s recovery effort may not gain speed until 2010. While the unemployment rate dipped last month, economists project it will reach 10 percent by early next year, restraining consumer spending.
“We still have a long way to go,” James O’Sullivan, a senior economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, said before the report. “We need the labor market to pick up for consumer spending to continue to improve.”
The fact that this figure is not falling is worrisome. My guess (not verified) is that most companies have already laid off the "low hanging fruit", thus this likely reflects laying off individuals that companies were attempting to hang on to (OR businesses failing altogether).