(Image source: Bloomberg)

BY JIM FLINK

 

Feeling optimistic about the economy?  Or pessimistic? Jobless numbers tell two stories this week. Weekly claims are up.  Monthly claims have hit a three year low.


CNN has the bad news.

“The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits took an upswing just before Christmas.”

BusinessWeek has the good.

“Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits over the past month than at any time in the past three years, a sign the U.S. labor market is on the mend heading into the new year.”

So -- what to make of it all? An analyst on Bloomberg says -- combined with stronger consumer confidence numbers, the lowest unemployment rates since the recession began in 2008 should be a good sign. But there are other more telling signs.

“Consumers, in my view, don’t really respond to the month to month changes in confidence, they really are, consumer spending is spurred by job and income growth, as well as what’s happening in the stock market.  Businesses on the other hand do respond very quickly when their confidence deteriorates, they will cut down on hiring quite quickly.”

What do other economic indicators say?

The Wall Street Journal reports pending-home sales have hit a 19-month high in November -- a sure sign of an improving housing market.


As for the stock market -- an analyst tells CNBC, 2012 could be a banner year for it.

Kass: “The beginning of the year, we’re going to see a stable and arranged Dow market. But I think that, a number of factors are going to conspire to move the market dramatically, beginning late April and early summer.”
CNBC: “What are those factors?”
Kass: “I think Americans are angry at our politicians’ inertia, and I think our populace is going to force our politicians to make a move on pro-growth fiscal policy.”


But Fox Business talks with an analyst who says, recovery isn’t likely -- more recession is.  Because that’s what’s happening with the rest of the world.

“Exports are extremely critical for us.  And, Europe is in recession, Japan is in recession, Brazil has sledded to a halt. Manufacturing activity is declining now in India and China.  And this suggests our exports will fall off, and we’re gonna lose our most dynamic sector.”

Finally, Reuters is quick to point out one final fact.  Fewer unemployment claims doesn’t necessarily translate into more companies hiring -- it could just mean less firing. When those hiring numbers become more clear, it reports, so too, might the shape of the U.S. economy.

Unemployment Hits a Three-Year Low

by Nathan Giannini
0
Transcript
Dec 29, 2011

Unemployment Hits a Three-Year Low

(Image source: Bloomberg)

BY JIM FLINK

 

Feeling optimistic about the economy?  Or pessimistic? Jobless numbers tell two stories this week. Weekly claims are up.  Monthly claims have hit a three year low.


CNN has the bad news.

“The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits took an upswing just before Christmas.”

BusinessWeek has the good.

“Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits over the past month than at any time in the past three years, a sign the U.S. labor market is on the mend heading into the new year.”

So -- what to make of it all? An analyst on Bloomberg says -- combined with stronger consumer confidence numbers, the lowest unemployment rates since the recession began in 2008 should be a good sign. But there are other more telling signs.

“Consumers, in my view, don’t really respond to the month to month changes in confidence, they really are, consumer spending is spurred by job and income growth, as well as what’s happening in the stock market.  Businesses on the other hand do respond very quickly when their confidence deteriorates, they will cut down on hiring quite quickly.”

What do other economic indicators say?

The Wall Street Journal reports pending-home sales have hit a 19-month high in November -- a sure sign of an improving housing market.


As for the stock market -- an analyst tells CNBC, 2012 could be a banner year for it.

Kass: “The beginning of the year, we’re going to see a stable and arranged Dow market. But I think that, a number of factors are going to conspire to move the market dramatically, beginning late April and early summer.”
CNBC: “What are those factors?”
Kass: “I think Americans are angry at our politicians’ inertia, and I think our populace is going to force our politicians to make a move on pro-growth fiscal policy.”


But Fox Business talks with an analyst who says, recovery isn’t likely -- more recession is.  Because that’s what’s happening with the rest of the world.

“Exports are extremely critical for us.  And, Europe is in recession, Japan is in recession, Brazil has sledded to a halt. Manufacturing activity is declining now in India and China.  And this suggests our exports will fall off, and we’re gonna lose our most dynamic sector.”

Finally, Reuters is quick to point out one final fact.  Fewer unemployment claims doesn’t necessarily translate into more companies hiring -- it could just mean less firing. When those hiring numbers become more clear, it reports, so too, might the shape of the U.S. economy.

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