US unemployment applications drop to 15-year low

The AP (4/30, Rugaber) reports that last week the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits “plummeted to the lowest level in 15 years,” according to the Labor Department. With applications dropping 34,000 from the previous week to 262,000, the less volatile four-week average also approached a 15-year low, dropping 1,250 to 283,750. The AP notes that the number of people receiving unemployment aid also fell 74,000 to 2.25 million, making it “the fewest since December 2000.” According to the AP, since applications for aid “are a proxy for layoffs,” the numbers indicate that “employers remain confident enough in the economy to hold onto their workers.”

US Wages Rise At Faster Pace In First Quarter. Bloomberg News (4/30) reports that on Thursday, the Labor Department announced that US wages and salaries rose 0.7 percent in the first quarter, up slightly from the 0.6 percent increase seen in the fourth quarter of 2014. Bloomberg notes that the numbers show employees “are having some success seeking higher pay,” which has been missing even as job openings reach a 14-year high.

Atlanta Fed Model Projects 0.9 Percent Growth In Second Quarter. Reuters (4/30, Leong) reports that a forecast model produced by the Atlanta Federal Reserve on Thursday showed the US economy should expand by 0.9 percent during the second quarter. Reuters notes that the same program projected first-quarter growth to be 0.1 percent, a number closer that the 1.0 percent growth average of polled analysts.

Index: Midwest Factory Activity Contracted In April. A second Reuters (5/1, Leong) article reports that the Institute for Supply Management-Milwaukee released its measure of upper Midwest factory activity for April, with its index showing that manufacturing in the region dropped from 53.25 in March to 48.08 last month. The article points out that an index under 50 indicates that manufacturing activity is contracting, which has only been the case in three of the previous 20 months.