Jobless claims in U.S. rose more than forecast last week

Emergency Benefits

Those who’ve used up their traditional benefits and are now collecting emergency and extended payments decreased by about 106,688 to 1.8 million in the week ended March 16.

The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits, which tends to track the jobless rate, held at 2.4% in the week ended March 23, today’s report showed.

Twenty-nine states and territories reported an increase in claims, while 24 reported a decrease. These data are reported with a one-week lag.

Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings and tend to fall as job growth -- measured by the monthly non-farm payrolls report -- accelerates.

Declining dismissals, combined with a sustained pickup in hiring, are needed help spur consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of the economy.

Economic Growth

The economy probably expanded at a 3.8% annual rate in the first three months of 2013 and may cool to a 1.5% pace in the second quarter, according to economists at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and his colleagues reiterated March 20 they will press on with monetary easing until the labor market outlook improves “substantially.”

Growing demand will help to sustain employment amid concern about the impact of the automatic federal budget cuts, or sequestration, which were triggered last month as lawmakers failed to reach a compromise on ways to reduce the nation’s deficit.

Motor vehicle sales averaged a 15.26 million annual rate in the January to March period, the best quarterly showing in five years, after 14.99 million in the final three months of 2012, industry figures showed this week.

“The economic picture looks pretty similar to the last couple of months, which helps to explain why the industry has stayed in a relatively healthy range,” Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations for General Motors Co., said on an April 2 conference call.

Some companies are paring staff. Supervalu Inc., the grocery-store operator that sold five brands to a private-equity led group in March, plans to eliminate 1,100 jobs as it trims costs amid falling sales. The Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based company said the reductions will come from its corporate and store-support offices, including current positions and open jobs that won’t be filled.

Bloomberg News

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