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First-time claims for unemployment in line with average in Nevada

CARSON CITY — A report by Nevada officials shows initial claims for unemployment insurance are in line with what they’ve been over a 20-year average.

Officials with the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said Thursday that about 13,000 claims were filed in August. That’s down 15 percent from claims in July.

Claims are up about 2 percent from last August, but officials say that’s only because claims were artificially low then, when the state shut down its processing system and installed a new one.

The state averaged 2.9 claims per week for every 1,000 jobs in August, which is close to the 20-year average of 3.2 claims per week per 1,000 jobs.

The number of claims is about one-third of what it was at the peak of the recession.

Nationwide, the number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped by a sharp 36,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 280,000, a sign that the job market is strengthening.

The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 4,750 to 299,500, the Labor Department said. The total number of people collecting benefits during the first week of September was 2.43 million, the fewest since May 2007.

Over the past year, the four-week average for applications has dropped 7.1 percent. In 2009, during the Great Recession, they topped 650,000.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When fewer people seek benefits, it suggests employers are retaining workers, likely because they are more confident about customer demand and might be ready to hire.

The fall in the number of people applying for benefits has been coupled by steady job growth, despite a slowdown in hiring in August.

Employers added 142,000 jobs last month, according to the Labor Department, down from 212,000 in July. That followed a six-month streak of monthly job gains in excess of 200,000. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent, but only because some of those out of work gave up looking. The government doesn’t count people as unemployed unless they are actively searching for a job.

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