When all you read is gloom, turn here for a much different perspective.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Unemployment Claims at 2-1/2 Year Low

No one can really deny that the job market is really starting to kick in now.

This past week provided economists a very positive jobless claims report for the February 5 week. It showed a steep 36,000 decline in initial claims to 383,000 for the lowest total in 2-1/2 years.

The Labor Department -- which released the report -- suggested in their comments that the latest level is likely free of seasonal or weather related distortions.

The four-week average, which helps even out weekly distortions, fell a very substantial 16,000 to 415,500.

Adding further fuel to the positive jobs report was the news on Friday that the Reuter's/University of Michigan's Consumer sentiment index continues to improve and is approaching its mid-year 2010 recovery high.

The two positive reports added an exclamation point to a week that begin by showing retail sales numbers skyrocketing into February.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Retail Sales Likely Skyrocketing into February

According to the ICSC-Goldman's retail sales report on Tuesday, same-store sales skyrocketed in the February 5 week, up 2.2 percent.

It was the largest weekly gain since the Easter surge of last March.

The year-on-year the rate jumped nearly one full percentage point to plus 2.5 percent.

The Redbook report, also released on Tuesday, was right in line with a measure that showed a 2.7 percent year-on-year same-store sales growth in the February 5 week.

Additionally Redbook offers a month-to-month comparison which registered a blistering 1.7 percent gain. Keep in mind that annualized that would point to a 20.4 percent retail gain in one year!

Early next week the government will post the January retail sales report amid most predicting a solid gain.

The economy accelerated at the end of 2010 as consumer spending climbed by the most in more than four years. Gross domestic product grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate, Commerce Department figures showed on Jan. 28.

And remember last week the ISM Manufacturing Index pointed to an overall economy in the month of January growing at a GDP annualized rate of 6.4 percent.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Job Cuts Lowest In January Since Report Began

On Wednesday the Challenger Job-Cut Report registered the fewest layoff announcements for any January since the measurement began in 1993. The Challenger Job-Cut Report is produced by Challenger, Grey & Christmas and tracks layoffs by industry and region.

According to the report, January 2011 cuts are down 46 percent from those announced in January 2010.

It is more common actually to see job cuts increase in January said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in the company's news release. "But what made this January figure so unusual is that it was so low. Even in the 1990s, when annual job cuts were relatively low, January still averaged more than 74,000 job cuts.", Challenger said.

In a separate positive report, payrolls among private employers rose by 187,000 in January, payroll processor ADP said. Analysts polled by Briefing.com were predicting 145,000 jobs added for the month and ahead of the Friday jobs report from the government, economists surveyed by CNNMoney are predicting the economy added 149,000 jobs in January.

The data adds to several of the first credible reports on the health of the job growth in the U.S. Those earlier reports point to significant additions ahead in the labor market for 2011.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

U.S. Manufacturing Activity Surges in January to Seven Year High

As noted here many times, the manufacturing sector continues to lead this recovery. And there was more good news at the factories in January.

On Tuesday the Institute for Supply Management released its latest manufacturing report on business and its headline composite index jumped to a rare 60.8 reading. The index is now at its highest level since May 2004 when the reading was 61.4 percent.

Every reading included in the index registered accelerating growth.

New orders spiked up nearly six points to an astonishing level of 67.8! And employment in the sector continues to accelerate -- now posting its 16th straight month of growth.

Manufacturing is clearly the economy's leading driver in this recovery. But the overall economy will likely continue to benefit. In fact, the ISM correlated its Tuesday report (like it does each month) with an annualized GDP estimate:

"The past relationship between the PMI and the overall economy indicates that the PMI for January (60.8 percent) corresponds to a 6.4 percent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) on an annual basis."

No doubt the jobs picture will continue to improve and the recovery is gaining traction.

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