Claims for jobless benefits in U.S. fall more than forecast

Extended Benefits

Continuing claims don’t include Americans who have exhausted their traditional state aid and are receiving emergency and extended benefits under federal programs. Those job seekers decreased by about 32,200 to 1.3 million in the week ended Nov. 2.

The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 2.2% in the week of Nov. 9, where it’s been since mid-September.

Forty-seven states and territories reported an increase in claims, while six reported a decrease. These data are reported with a one-week lag.

Federal Reserve policy makers meet next Dec. 17-18 to weigh whether economic growth and progress in the labor market merit a reduction in the $85 billion of monthly asset purchases. Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen, nominated to succeed Ben S. Bernanke when his term expires Jan. 31, told lawmakers last week that “supporting the recovery today is the surest path to returning to a more normal approach to monetary policy” and that the Fed “has more work to do” in boosting the expansion.

Payroll Gains

Employers added 204,000 workers to payrolls in October even as gridlock over the budget in Washington forced the partial closing of federal agencies, topping the most optimistic forecast in a survey of economists, a Nov. 8 Labor Department report showed.

Retail sales showed a stronger-than-forecast pickup in October, a positive sign for companies as shoppers enter the holiday season. The 0.4% increase was the most in three months and higher than the 0.1% median in a Bloomberg survey of 86 economists.

Consumer spending gains even amid the 16-day partial federal government shutdown are lifting the outlook for businesses such as La-Z-Boy Inc. of Monroe, Michigan.

“It isn’t anything to be alarmed about,” Chief Executive Officer Kurt Darrow said on an earnings call yesterday, referring to the shutdown’s effects. “The consumer recovered pretty nicely.”

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