Due to the economic recovery, the number of jobless claims fell last week to the lowest level since September 2008.
Initial jobless claims declined to 466,000 in the week ended Nov. 21 from 501,000 a week earlier, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The number of people collecting unemployment insurance dropped in the prior week, while those getting extended payments also declined.
After slashing more than 7 million jobs in the past two years, companies may have little margin to cut further without threatening their capacity to ramp up production as the economy recovers. The government may report next week that employers in November shed the fewest jobs in 20 months.
“It is on an improving trend,” said Julia Coronado, a senior economist at BNP Paribas in New York. “We are steadily seeing a trajectory toward smaller and smaller job losses. It seems we’re still a ways away from positive job growth,” Bloomberg reports.
It was also reported, while the Commerce Department reported income growth was essentially flat in October, personal spending was up 0.7%, after falling 0.6% in September.
The last piece of news Wednesday morning also came from the Commerce Department, which reported durable goods orders fell 0.6% in October, and 1.3% when excluding transportation orders, after gains in September. Tractor-maker Deere & Company ( DE - news - people ), which booked a quarterly loss on a number of one-time charges and offered a dim outlook for 2010 Wednesday, fell 1% at the open.
The mixed batch of economic reports couldn't lift the market to much in the way of pre-holiday gains early Wednesday, a day after a ho-hum session. With volume expected to thin out later Wednesday as traders take off before the market takes a break Thursday, the major indexes were struggling for gains at the open. The Dow Jones industrial average was up just a point at 10,434, the S&P 500 actually lost almost a point to 1,105 and the Nasdaq gained 3 points to 2,172, Forbes reports.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that the nation's unemployment rate rose above 10% for the first time since 1983.
A separate government report said 1 million people could lose their unemployment benefits in January if they don't receive further extended federal aid. President Obama signed a bill to extend government-provided unemployment insurance by up to 20 weeks, but the law applies only to those whose benefits will expire by the end of 2009.
The Obama administration said earlier this month that it will hold a jobs forum on Dec. 3. Obama will meet with labor representatives, financial experts and other business leaders to discuss the continued problems with unemployment, CNNMoney.com reports.