Fewer Americans than forecast filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments last week, extending the period of volatility typically seen in July.
Applications for jobless benefits decreased by 35,000 in the week ended July 21 to 353,000, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 380,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. Changes in the annual auto plant shutdowns that occur this time of year have made it difficult to adjust the data for seasonal variations, the Labor Department has said.
Statistical noise aside, slowing economies in Europe and China, which have reduced global demand for goods, may continue to curb employment. The U.S. presidential election and a looming battle over tax cuts and government spending may also be making businesses reluctant to hire.
â€œAll in all, the labor market is gradually healing,â€ said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moodyâ€™s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. â€œWeâ€™ve got to take this report with a grain of salt. The jobs market is still tough and weâ€™re setting ourselves up for a soft second half of the year.â€
Orders for durable goods climbed more than projected in June as a surge in demand for aircraft and military hardware overshadowed a slump in business equipment spending, data from the Commerce Department also showed today. Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years rose 1.6 percent for a second month. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.3 percent gain.