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Jobless claims at highest level in 18 months, retail sales slipping

While some economic indicators are showing signs of improvement, until the budget negotiations are completed and the “fiscal cliff” is resolved, American employers are holding their breath.

jobless claims
Above: Occupy Jobs demonstration in March 2012 in Manhattan sought to form the world's longest unemployment line, holding their pink slips. Photo courtesy of Michael Fleshman.

jobless claims

Above: Occupy Jobs demonstration in March 2012 in Manhattan sought to form the world’s longest unemployment line, holding their pink slips in hand. Photo courtesy of Michael Fleshman.

Jobless claims jump, retail sales fall

According to the U.S. Labor Department, weekly applications increased by 78,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 439,000, the highest level in 18 months, while The U.S. Census Bureau reports that sales for retail and food services fell 0.3 percent in October.

Although the numbers look poor, many point out that Superstorm Sandy has been one of the factors in the unemployment claims, as Americans can apply for unemployment when their workplaces close and they do not get paid, which is the case in several states hit by the storm, and while this explanation works for the sudden increase, it cannot be used as an explanation for the overall unemployment and underemployment rates America continues to suffer.

Before Superstorm Sandy, weekly jobless claims hovered between 360,000 and 390,000 for all of 2012, while employers added an average of 157,000 jobs a month, marking a clear disparity between the numbers, fueling the unemployment rate which was at 7.9 percent in October.

America holds its breath during “fiscal cliff” negotiations

As the unemployment rate dropped below 8.0 percent, many voters felt a sense of relief, that the job market is improving, but some note that the unemployment rate reported by the government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching for work.

Many economists report that the economy is growing this quarter, but at a distressed rate of under 2.0 percent.

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Not only are employers holding off on hiring and investing, many consumers are said to be experiencing anxiety over the fiscal cliff and are sitting on the retail sidelines until they know what money they will or will not be without come January 1st when new tax rates could hit if no compromise on the budget is reached on Capitol Hill.

Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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