WASHINGTON (9/13/13)--Initial U.S. claims for unemployment benefits plunged steeply last week to the lowest level since April 2006--mostly because work on computer systems resulted in under-reporting in two states, a government official said (The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg.com and Moody's Economy.com Sept. 12).
Claims declined 31,000--to 292,000 for the week ended Sept. 7, the Labor Department said Thursday.
When the two states transitioned to new computer systems they failed to report all of their claims because the applications either did not get processed or were not received, said a Labor Department analyst, who declined to name the states, citing department policy. One state was large and the other was small, the analyst said.
The week's decline was not a true sign of a healing labor market, and revised estimates in the next few weeks should correct the data, he added. Also, a shorter work week due to the Labor Day holiday may have been a factor in the lower claims figure, the analyst said.
Meanwhile, continuing claims for unemployment benefits dropped 73,000--to 2.87 million--for the week ended Aug. 31.
NEW YORK (9/13/13)--Consumer confidence in the U.S. stabilized last week--even though Americans' views on the economy dimmed--after declining for four consecutive weeks, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index (Bloomberg.com and Moody's Economy.com Sept. 12).
The index climbed to -32.1 for the week ended Sept. 8, from -32.3 the previous week.
Although households' assessment of the economy was the lowest since mid-May, another component of the index, which is a gauge of whether this is a good time to make purchases, improved for the first time in the past five weeks, Bloomberg said.
However, the improved view of the buying climate was mostly mitigated by negative views about personal finances, Moody's said.
Americans remain wary of the job creation pace and wage gains, said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York. Therefore, they are looking for a long-awaited pickup in growth during the second half of the year.
In the meantime, consumers have taken on a "wait-and-see attitude," he concluded.