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Weekly US unemployment aid claims drop to 344K

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 28, 2013 at 8:25 am •  Published: February 28, 2013
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Still, the outlook for the U.S. economy brightened this week after reports showed that Americans are more confident and are buying more new homes. Home prices are also rising steadily, and banks are lending more. Such improvements suggest that the economy is resilient enough to withstand automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to kick in Friday.

The spending cuts could slow economic growth and cost 700,000 jobs, according to the Congressional Budget Office. They could also reduce unemployment benefit checks for those out of work for more than six months by about 11 percent, according to the National Employment Law Project. Benefits average about $320 per week nationwide.

Growth will likely pick up a bit in the January-March quarter to an annual rate of about 1.5 percent, analysts forecast. That's better than the fourth quarter but below last year's expansion of 2.2 percent.

Meanwhile, a total of nearly 5.8 million people received unemployment aid in the week ended Feb. 9, the latest data available. That's up about 180,000 from the previous week. That figure has fallen from nearly 7.5 million a year ago, partly because some of aid recipients have gotten jobs, while others have used up all the benefits available.