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Unemployment applications, productivity up


More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, showing that the labor market will take time to improve, according to Bloomberg.

Jobless claims rose by 20,000 to 457,000 in the week ended Oct. 30 from a revised 437,000 the prior week, according to Labor Department figures released today. The total number of people receiving unemployment insurance fell, while the numbers of those on extended payments increased.

The pace of firings has held within a narrow range in 2010, showing that employers continue to focus on cutting costs more than a year into the economic recovery. Calling progress toward lower joblessness and faster growth “disappointingly slow,” Federal Reserve policy makers yesterday announced plans to bolster the recovery through another round of large-scale asset purchases.

Claims have “been relatively steady, consistent with lackluster to moderate labor market conditions,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates Inc. in St. Petersburg, Fla., in an interview with Bloomberg.

Another Labor Department report showed worker productivity rose more than forecast in the third quarter as companies redoubled efforts to rein in costs amid signs the recovery was slowing.

A measure of employee output per hour increased at a 1.9 percent annual rate after falling 1.8 percent in the previous three months.

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