Jobless Claims Fall

Published by: Mike Goldman on 24th Nov 2010 | View all blogs by Mike Goldman
Jobless Claims Fall

The Labor Department's weekly jobs report was released on Wednesday, providing hope that the struggling US job market may finally be heading in a positive direction.

Initial jobless claims for the week ending November 20th, the report showed, declined by 34,000 to a total of 407,000.  The number of Americans on extended benefits also fell, and the total number of people on unemployment declined to its lowest level since July 2008.  Economists participating in a recent Bloomberg News poll had forecast initial claims to fall to 435,000.

A drop in firings and layoffs and increased job creation are expected to increase consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the overall economy, although economists still expect the unemployment rate to take some time to decline.

Consumer spending climbed in October for a fifth straight month as improvements in wages lifted the US economy's biggest sector at the beginning of the last quarter of 2010.  Household purchases gained 0.4 percent in the month after gaining 0.3 percent in September, both gains coming in higher than economists' forecasts.  Incomes also rose in October, by a reported 0.5 percent.

The Commerce Department did release several nuggets of bad news on Wednesday, reporting that orders for US durable goods fell 3.3 percent in the month, the biggest decline of the measure since January 2009, after an upwardly revised increase of 5 percent in September.

The reports sent stocks higher and Treasurys lower.  The yield on the 10-year Treasury, commonly used as a benchmark for interest rates, climbed to 2.83 percent from 2.78 percent late in Tuesday's session.

The four-week moving average, a measure designed to smooth out seasonal volatility, fell to 436,000 last week from 443,500 the week prior.  Continuing claims, meanwhile, fell 142,000 in the week ending November 13th, the latest data available, to 4.18 million.  Economists had forecast the measure to fall to 4.28 million.  The continuing claims measure does not include Americans receiving extended benefits under federal programs.

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