Friday Economic Snapshot: Back on track

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By Tom Kaiser
April 4, 2014
Filed under Features, Top Stories

Earthquakes have been rattling the West Coast, talk of the missing jetliner has been replaced by another high-profile shooting, General Motors is in crisis, the Supreme Court further loosened campaign finance requirements and the stock market is at a record high —America is officially back on track.

In finance, the week’s biggest news stories are solid jobs numbers, accelerating auto sales, the Chinese government embarking on a new round of stimulus, February home prices up 12.2 percent year-over-year, small business job gains and weekly unemployment claims edging higher.

Let’s take a closer look.

Private Employment

There’s a reason the Dow Jones Industrial Average is in record territory with a positive trajectory: job creation. Mirroring ADP’s prediction of 191,000 new jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistic released its results this morning showing 192,000 new jobs. These numbers keep the unemployment rate at 6.7 percent and, according to many economists, are considered healthy but not excellent.

Given what we’ve seen, along with the market’s reaction, there is talk that we’re in a sweet spot of job creation where it’s enough to make slight progress in America’s job crisis without pushing the Fed to raise interest rates.

 

Small Business

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reports that its members increased employment by an average of 0.18 workers per firm in March, which is an improvement over February’s rather dismal 0.11.

This is the sixth positive month in a row, and on a seasonally adjusted basis, 11 percent of the owners in its sample reported adding an average of 2.6 workers per firm. Zooming out, these numbers are approaching the healthy levels seen before the previous two recessions.

Unemployment Claims

Last but never least, the Department of Labor’s weekly unemployment report showed initial claims at 326,000 for the previous week. This is an increase of 16,000 from the previous week’s 310,000. The 4-week moving average is now at 319,500, a miniscule increase of 250 from the previous week’s average.

This American jobs surge is happening any day … right? Signs point to yes, even if job creation numbers aren’t exactly on fire.

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