US jobless claims fall to nine month low as retail sales rise
THE number of US workers filing new jobless claims hit a nine-month low last week, and retailers posted their first monthly sales gain in over a year, easing fears recovery from recession would be unsustainable.
The Labour Department yesterday said first-time applications for unemployment benefits dropped 33,000 to a seasonally adjusted 521,000 last week, the lowest level since early January. That was below market expectations for 540,000.
Separately, September sales at major domestic retailers showed the first monthly increase since August 2008. It was a sign consumer spending has started to recover and the economy was growing again after the worst recession in 70 years.
“The labour market is improving, but rather slowly,” said Cary Leahey, economist at Decision Economics. “Both the initial and continuing claims numbers suggest that October ought to be a better month for payrolls than September.”
The jobless claims report was a relief after data last week showed US employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, far more than the market was expecting. Data suggests the economy started growing in the third quarter.