Ranks of jobless in US expand but personal income improves

Ben Southwood
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NEW US unemployment insurance claims climbed in the penultimate week of January, according to Department of Labor data out yesterday.

But just a month before, in December, personal incomes were still rising, according to a separate release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

Personal income climbed 2.6 per cent, or $352.4bn (£222.1bn), between November and December, the BEA said, adding to the $135.8bn income boost US residents enjoyed in November.

Still, the more recent jobless claim data was gloomy, with a 38,000 weekly jump in seasonally adjusted claims bringing the total to 368,000, within touching distance of the 381,000 new claims seen in the same week last year.

Total unemployment insurance claims, also seasonally adjusted, also jumped, the newest data showed, from 3,175,000 in the week ending 12 January, to 3,197,000 in the following week.

But economists took the jump with a pinch of salt, suggesting that it came mainly due to volatility in the new claims numbers. “We’re not alarmed by the rise in the number of initial jobless claims,” said Capital Economics’ Paul Dales. “This just reverses some of the previous sharp falls without altering the gradual downward trend.”