Jobless claims fall; productivity is up
The improvement comes just before Friday's big report on unemployment and nonfarm payrolls.
Before the stock market went nutty, there was some good economic news today.
First-time jobless claims fell by 7,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 444,000, the Labor Department said. The number was in line with expectations and the third straight week of declines.
The report comes a day ahead of the government's April nonfarm payrolls report. Economists are looking for a gain of 185,000 jobs. The report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, which takes out weekly volatility, fell by 4,750 to 458,500 last week.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits dropped by 59,000, to 4.59 million, in the week ended April 24; economists had expected a decline to 4.61 million. The continuing claims figure does not include the number of people receiving extended benefits under federal programs.
A separate report from the Labor Department said that productivity rose at a 3.6% annual rate in the first quarter, the smallest pace in a year, after rising at a 6.3% pace in the fourth quarter.
But the gain was better than expected. Economists were looking for employee output to have risen at a 2.5% pace.
Unit labor costs fell at a 1.6% pace last quarter after a 5.6% drop in the fourth quarter. Economists had expected costs to have declined 0.7%.
The decline in jobless claims comes as there's more evidence that companies are starting to hire.
Companies in the U.S. added workers in April for a third month, according to data on private employment from ADP Employer Services. The 32,000 increase was the most since January 2008 and followed a revised 19,000 gain the prior month, the figures showed.
Elizabeth Strott contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market began the last week of July on a quiet note with the S&P 500 ending less than a point above its flat line. Like the benchmark index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) also posted a slim gain, while the Russell 2000 (-0.5%) and Nasdaq Composite (-0.1%) lagged throughout the session.
The major averages were awakened from their weekend slumber with an opening retreat that pressured the S&P 500 below its 20-day moving average (1975). Even though ... More
More Market News
|There’s a problem getting this information right now. Please try again later.|
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'