Applications for Jobless Benefits Drop to a 49-year Low, Inflation Remains Tame

April 11, 2019 by Dan McCue

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits in the United States fell last week to its lowest level since December 1969, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The last time unemployment benefits claims were this low, Jay-Z was a newborn in a New York City hospital, the Boeing 747 had just made its first commercial passenger flight, and the Rolling Stones were about to headline the ill-fated outdoor concert at the Altamont Speedway in California, later blamed for ending the Woodstock-era of good feelings.

According to the Labor Department, weekly applications for unemployment aid fell 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 202,000.

Unemployment applications are considered a proxy for layoffs, so the drop to such a low number indicates that companies are cutting very few workers.

A report Wednesday from payroll processor ADP found that businesses added just 129,000 jobs in March, down from 197,000 the previous month. The federal government’s count for March is scheduled to be released Friday.

“March posted the slowest employment increase in 18 months,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. “Although some service sectors showed continued strength, we saw weakness in the goods producing sector.”

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, was equally concerned.

“The job market is weakening, with employment gains slowing significantly across most industries and company sizes,” Zandi said. “Businesses are hiring cautiously as the economy is struggling with fading fiscal stimulus, the trade uncertainty, and the lagged impact of Fed tightening. If employment growth weakens much further, unemployment will begin to rise.”

In other economic news, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday that producer prices increased by the most in five months in March, but underlying wholesale inflation remains low.

The department said its producer price index rose 0.6 percent last month, lifted primarily by a 0.4 percent surge in the cost of gasoline. That was the largest increase since last October.

It also followed a much more modest 0.1 percent gain in February.

In the 12 months from March 2018 to March 2019, the producer price index  rose 2.2 percent after advancing 1.9 percent in February.

A key gauge of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services was unchanged in March after ticking up 0.1 percent in February.

The so-called core producer price index increased 2.0 percent in the 12 months through March.

That was the smallest annual increase since August 2017 and followed a 2.3 percent rise in February.

Growth has slowed since it topped 4 percent at an annual rate in the April-June quarter of last year, decelerating to just 2.2 percent in the final three months of 2018.

The Federal Reserve has said once all the numbers for the quarter are crunched, it expects to find the U.S. economy expanded at a rate of 2.1 percent in the first three months of this year.

Economy

Wall Street May Get $40 billion Reprieve From Trump Regulators Business
Wall Street May Get $40 billion Reprieve From Trump Regulators

WASHINGTON — Wall Street could soon get one of its most consequential wins of the Trump era as regulators are considering ripping up a rule that’s forced banks to set aside billions of dollars for swaps trades, according to people familiar with the matter. At issue... Read More

Saudi Attacks Reveal Oil Supply Fragility in Asymmetric War Geopolitics
Saudi Attacks Reveal Oil Supply Fragility in Asymmetric War

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The latest and most destructive attacks on Saudi oil facilities provide stark evidence of the vulnerability of global crude supply in an age of disruptive technologies that can bring a century-old industry to its knees — at least temporarily. From remote-controlled... Read More

46,000 UAW Workers Strike At GM Plants Nationwide Business
46,000 UAW Workers Strike At GM Plants Nationwide

DETROIT — Members of the United Auto Workers went on strike at General Motors Co. plants nationwide at midnight Sunday night, sending 46,000 workers to picket lines in the union’s first walkout since the automaker emerged from taxpayer-funded bankruptcy a decade ago. The UAW on Sunday... Read More

White House Repeals Obama-Era Clean Water Rule Environment
White House Repeals Obama-Era Clean Water Rule
September 13, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced Thursday that it is repealing an  Obama-era clean water rule that had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands and other bodies of water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the repeal of the 2015... Read More

House Panel Told Broadband Policies Should Not Worsen Urban/Rural Divide Technology
House Panel Told Broadband Policies Should Not Worsen Urban/Rural Divide
September 11, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - A far-reaching broadband connectivity should not be dictated by the location of a home or business, but rather should foster economic growth and sustainable communities by being equally accessible by all. That was the overarching message delivered to the House Small Business Subcommittee on... Read More

House Votes to Ban Offshore Drilling, Throwing Down Gauntlet for Trump, GOP Environment
House Votes to Ban Offshore Drilling, Throwing Down Gauntlet for Trump, GOP
September 11, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., couldn't be happier that the House Wednesday passed a pair of bills blocking offshore oil drilling in almost all waters around the United States. But in an interview with The Well News, he acknowledged that the real work lies ahead... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top