Employers wringing more from staff as US jobless claims surge

New US claims for jobless aid rose last week and a strong rebound in productivity in the third quarter showed employers wringing more output from current workers rather than hiring. US business productivity rose at a stronger-than-expected 1.9 per cent annual rate, the Labour Department said yesterday, leading to a surprise dip in unit labour costs, a closely watched gauge of inflation pressure.

The data came a day after the Federal Reserve launched a programme to buy an additional $600bn (£369bn) worth of government bonds out of concern over lofty unemployment and the risk slowing inflation could lead to a downward price spiral that could shackle the economy.

The US government’s closely watched monthly employment report, to be released today, is expected to show anemic jobs growth in October.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 20,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 457,000, reversing the prior week’s decline, the department said in a separate report. Economists had expected claims to come in at 443,000.

The data suggested little improvement in the stagnant US labour market and continued downward pressure on inflation.