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December 12, 2017
Thursday, March 15, 2012

US jobless claims fall, manufacturing holds up

US economic growth showed signs of becoming more self-sustaining as the number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits fell back to a four-year low last week and manufacturing activity in the Northeast picked up this month.

But the impact of higher oil prices was also starting to be seen in data today. Producer prices racked up their biggest increase in five months in February, while manufacturers in New York state reported a surge in input costs in March.

The recent gains in oil and gasoline prices have raised concerns the higher costs could start to squeeze businesses and consumers and put a dent in the recovery.

Still, producer prices last month did not rise as much as economists had expected, and underlying inflation pressures were contained.

Today's initial claims data for state unemployment benefits was further evidence of an improving labor market after the jobless rate held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent in February.

The Federal Reserve earlier this week acknowledged the recent improvement in the labor market, but remained concerned with the still-high unemployment rate.

Initial claims dropped 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 351,000 last week, the US Labor Department said, taking claims back to a four-year low reached in February.

The four-week moving average for new jobless claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, was unchanged at 355,750.

The firming tone in the job market was reinforced by the manufacturing surveys, which showed factories increased employment this month.

The New York Federal Reserve said its Empire State general business conditions index rose to 20.21 - its highest level since June 2010 - from 19.53 in February.

 

 

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Tags:  US  jobs  economy  





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