- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 25, 2009

UPDATED

The Labor Department reported Wednesday the number of first-time jobless claims dropped last week to 466,000 — the lowest in more than a year.

The report was among three upbeat announcements this morning by the federal government about the U.S. economy.

The Census Bureau reported sales of new, single-family homes increased by 6.2 percent in October. The 430,000 homes sold was 25,000 more than in September and 5.1 percent more than in Oct. 2008.

The average price in October 2009 was $261,100, the agency said.

The Commerce Department reported consumer spending increased 0.4 percent in October, after decreasing 0.7 percent in September. The increase reflected an upturn in purchases of new cars. The decline in September reflected the end of the federal cash-for-clunkers program, which boosted sales in July and August, the agency said.

The numbers are more positive signs the country is emerging from a 24-month recession, the worst since World War II. But high unemployment remains a problem, with economists saying companies must start rehiring before a full recovery is possible.

The U.S. unemployment rate stands at 10.2 percent. The November rate will be released Dec. 4.

The number of first-time claims for the week ending Nov. 21 also was 35,000 less than the previous week’s revised figure of 501,000.

Last week’s number was the lowest since the week of Sept. 13, 2008, and exceeded economists’ expectations that first-time claims would increase to 500,000.

The number of continuous claims also decreased — 5.42 million in the week ending Nov. 14, compared to 5.61 million in the previous week, according to the agency.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Nov. 14 were in Florida, 1,313; Indiana 607; and Hawaii, 278.

The largest decreases were in California, 7,987; Texas, 4,710; and Pennsylvania, 4,321.

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