ET: Americans are increasingly foregoing unemployment benefits as the job market remains strong and the economy shows signs of acceleration.
The initial claims of jobless benefits dropped to 192,000 in the week ending April 13, down 5,000 from the week before (pdf). That means less than 59 out of 100,000 Americans applied for the benefits—a record low. Economists had forecast claims would rise to 205,000 in the latest week.
Meanwhile, retail sales in March increased by 1.6 percent—the most in 18 months—as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and a range of other goods, the latest indication that economic growth picked up in the first quarter.
Fears of an abrupt slowdown in activity escalated at the turn of the year after a batch of weak economic reports. But those concerns have dissipated in recent weeks amid fairly upbeat data on trade, inventories, and construction spending that have suggested growth last quarter could actually be better than the moderate pace logged in the final three months of 2018.
“Supported by strong labor market conditions and improving wage growth, household spending appears well positioned to increase in the coming months,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors in Kalamazoo, Michigan. “Fears about the softening in the economy were overblown.”
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales would accelerate 0.9 percent in March. Retail sales in March advanced 3.6 percent from a year ago. more here