No Easter bump: retail sales down in March
The Easter Bunny brought a letdown to retailers this year, as sales slumped in March, marking a weak start to the spring shopping season.
Cold March Keeps Shoppers’ Spending Tepid
NEW YORK — So much for new spring shorts and T-shirts. As cold weather lingered across most of the country, Americans shopped modestly in March. U.S. retailers reported a key revenue figure rose slightly during the month, as shoppers held back on spending because of the cold weather across the nation, particularly the Midwest and East Coast, and continued fears about the economy. Economists monitor consumer spending because it accounts for more than 70 percent of economic activity. According to a preliminary tally of 15 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers, revenue in stores open at least a year rose 1.6 percent, or 2.5 percent excluding drugstores. That was below expectations, said Michael Niemira, chief economist at the ICSC. Weather was a factor, with March being the coldest in seven years. The comparison with last March was especially tough. Last year saw the warmest March on record, according to weather research firm Planalytics Inc. “Wintry weather conditions ...
Economic Report: U.S. jobless claims drop 42,000 to 346,000
New applications for unemployment benefits fell sharply last week after a spike the week before, largely reflecting seasonal quirks around Easter and spring break and signaling little change in the trajectory of a slowly mending labor market.
U.S. Unemployment Aid Applications Plummet to 346K
(WASHINGTON) — The number of Americans seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, suggesting March’s weak month of hiring may be a temporary slowdown. The Labor Department says weekly unemployment aid applications fell 42,000 last week, reversing sharp gains over the previous two weeks. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 3,000 to 358,000. The data have been volatile in the past two weeks largely because of the Easter holiday, a department spokesman says. The timing of the holiday changes from year to year. That makes it difficult to adjust for school holidays that can cause temporary layoffs. Employers added only 88,000 jobs in March after averaging 220,000 the previous four months. The drop in unemployment benefits suggests hiring could pick up again in April. MORE: How ‘Made in the USA’ is Making a Comeback
U.S. Unemployment Aid Applications Jump to 385,000
(WASHINGTON) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose last week by 28,000, the third straight increase. Weekly applications increased to a seasonally adjusted 385,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the highest level since late November. The gain pushed the four-week average, a less volatile measure, to 354,250. A Labor Department spokesman says the figures may have been affected by the Easter holiday. The department says the holiday’s timing varies from year to year, which makes it difficult to adjust for school closings and other seasonal factors that can alter the data. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have declined steadily since November, pushing the average to a five-year low three weeks ago. The recent increases could be a sign that companies are starting to cut jobs, possibly because of steep government spending cuts that began on March 1. Earlier reports this week suggested that companies may have slowed hiring this month after four months ...