THE END OF APRIL BROUGHT a decrease to the number of unemployment insurance claims, says the U.S. Department of Labor. For the week ending April 28, the initial claims decreased 27,000, to 365,000 from the previous week’s figure of 392,000. For the week ending April 21, the overall number of unemployed decreased slightly, to 3,276,000.
To go along with those figures, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were 3.7 million job openings at the end of March, basically the same as February but up from the figure of 3.1 million reported during the same time frame in 2011. The number of nonfarm job openings has increased by 1.3 million since June 2009.
While jobs have grown for the last several months, the number of new jobs in April increased by 115,000, about half of the previously month. The unemployment rate remained at 8.1%, the bureau reported.
ACCORDING TO THE BUSINESS SURVEY COMMITTEE FOR THE INSTITUTE OF SUPPLY MANAGEMENT, economic growth is expected to continue during 2012, for both manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors. The group’s forecast states revenue will increase 4.5% for manufacturing sectors, with an increase in capital investments as well. For the non-manufacturing industries, the forecast shows an increase in revenue by 4.8%, with capital investment to increase 3.6%.
THE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT REPORTED A SLIGHT INCREASE IN PERSONAL INCOME—up 0.4%—for March, which was better than expectations. As Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank said, “Today’s numbers show that personal income in March rose for the 28th consecutive month. (The) date is consistent with first-quarter growth in consumer spending released (earlier) showing that consumer spending rose 2.9% in the first quarter of this year. While the data are encouraging, we must continue to do everything possible to support American businesses and create jobs.”
ALSO WITH POSITIVE NEWS, the 12 Federal Reserve Districts reported an economic expansion at a modest to moderate rate through late March. Manufacturing increased in most of the districts, with industry leaders expressing optimism for growth prospects, including the automotive and high-technology segments.
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE APPEARS TO BE THE SAME as consumers remain hopeful despite disappointment in the lower job growth rate for April.
“To avoid the mid-year relapses of the prior two years, it would be best to quickly reduce uncertainty about future tax rates which are now scheduled to increase at the start of 2013,” says Richard Curtin, chief economist for Surveys of Consumers, Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan. “If no decision about bridging the fiscal cliff is made until after the November election, consumers are likely to become more cautious spenders.”