WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless aid hit the lowest level in more than 2-1/2 years last week and service sector hiring picked up in February, signs the labor market recovery was quickening.
Another report on Thursday confirmed business productivity picked up a bit in the fourth quarter, but it also underscored a slowing trend that suggested employers may have to step-up hiring even further.
"There can be no denial that a strengthening in labor market conditions is under way, as layoffs have dropped sharply since the beginning of the year," said Jim Baird, a partner at Plante Moran Financial Advisors in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Initial claims for state jobless benefits dropped 20,000 to 368,000, the lowest since May 2008, the Labor Department said.
Economists had forecast claims rising to 398,000. The four-week average of claims, a better measure of underlying trends, fell below 400,000 for first time since July 2008.
Separately, growth in the huge U.S. services sector touched a fresh 5-1/2 year high in February.
The Institute for Supply Management's index of non-manufacturing activity edged up to 59.7, the highest since August 2005, from 59.4 in January. Its employment component rose to 55.6, its highest level since April 2006, from 54.5.
A reading above 50 shows an expansion in the sector, which accounts for about 80 percent of the U.S. economy. A services employment gauge hit its highest level since April 2006.
Answer by gemgem at 4:20 PM on Mar. 3, 2011
Answer by gemgem at 4:26 PM on Mar. 3, 2011
Answer by ImaginationMama at 4:33 PM on Mar. 3, 2011
Answer by NotPanicking at 4:34 PM on Mar. 3, 2011
So, when Unemployment rose, it was due to the weather..... Let me guess~ the weather is better in the Lower 48 these days?
Answer by grlygrlz2 at 4:47 PM on Mar. 3, 2011
Answer by gdiamante at 5:29 PM on Mar. 3, 2011
Answer by yourspecialkid at 5:33 PM on Mar. 3, 2011
Answer by LoriKeet at 6:02 PM on Mar. 3, 2011