(WASHINGTON) — After inching up for the last few weeks, jobless claims plummeted by 27,000 last week – the most in more than three months, according to numbers released by the government on Thursday. New claims for unemployment benefits were down to 365,000 for the week ending April 28, the Labor Department said, moving away from the dreaded 400,000 mark.
A separate report out Thursday found worker productivity down 0.5 percent in the first quarter – the biggest drop in a year.
Economist Hugh Johnson says these latest figures could be a sign that companies are demanding too much from overworked, understaffed employees.
“They can’t get essentially more output or work from their existing labor force,” Johnson said Thursday. “If they’re going to respond to increased demands…they’re going to have to add workers.”
At the same time, a survey of 32 leading economists is predicting unemployment will be down to 8 percent by Election Day.
“I think it’s going to be a little bit lower,” Johnson said, in response that prediction, “but nevertheless 8 percent. And that should be a little bit of help to the Obama administration.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Menser, Bizmojo Idaho
Ralph Ellis, CNN
Kathryn Vasel, CNN