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

April 11, 2019 by Dan McCue
Líderes de la economía floridana pronostican disminución en la creación de empleos para el 2019 en cumbre en Orlando. (Martin E. Comas/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

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

House Votes to Renew Export-Import Bank  Charter Over GOP Opposition Trade
House Votes to Renew Export-Import Bank Charter Over GOP Opposition
November 18, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The House voted on Friday to renew the charter of the Export-Import Bank, the U.S. agency that provides loans and other help to foreign buyers of U.S. exports, despite opposition from Republican lawmakers. Despite the bank having historically enjoyed strong bipartisan support, only 13... Read More

Congress Considers Proposals to Help Immigrants Start Small Businesses Business
Congress Considers Proposals to Help Immigrants Start Small Businesses
November 11, 2019
by Tom Ramstack

Business leaders in California appealed to Congress Friday to expand financial assistance to immigrants trying to start their own businesses. They said small government investments can create big payoffs when immigrants start successful businesses that pay taxes and employ other persons. The U.S. Small Business Administration... Read More

WTO Says China Can Impose Sanctions On $3.5B Worth Of US Goods Trade
WTO Says China Can Impose Sanctions On $3.5B Worth Of US Goods
November 1, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The World Trade Organization said Friday that China can place new trade sanctions on $3.5 billion of U.S. goods in retaliation for U.S. restrictions on Chinese furniture, steel products and solar panels. The award by an arbitration panel with the Geneva-based organization is the... Read More

New Report Shows Private Equity's Positive Impact on U.S. Economy Economy
New Report Shows Private Equity's Positive Impact on U.S. Economy
November 1, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Private equity sector is playing a positive role in the U.S. economy, supporting more than 26 million jobs while accounting for about 5% of the nation's gross domestic product, according to a new report. The analysis comes from Ernst & Young, which worked in... Read More

Trump’s Steel Tariffs Were Supposed to Save the Industry. They Made Things Worse Economy
Trump’s Steel Tariffs Were Supposed to Save the Industry. They Made Things Worse

WASHINGTON — When President Trump slapped 25% tariffs on foreign steel in March 2018, panicky U.S. buyers rushed to place new orders ahead of feared supply interruptions, driving prices up sharply. It was an instant bonanza for domestic steel producers. With much fanfare, some announced ambitious... Read More

Federal Deficit Just Shy of $1 Trillion for 2019, Highest Since 2012 Federal Budget
Federal Deficit Just Shy of $1 Trillion for 2019, Highest Since 2012
October 25, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The federal deficit for fiscal year 2019 was $984 billion, $205 billion more than in the prior fiscal year, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Friday afternoon. The final accounting from the Treasury Department of the Office of Management and Budget confirmed a projection released... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top