Green Shoots for the Economy
New data out this morning offer continued clues that we are slinking out of the winter economic soft patch. The Labor Department reported today that the four-week average for initial claims for unemployment benefits fell to 266,250, its lowest level since December 1973. “That’s an impressive number,” said Bob Hughes, AIER senior research fellow. That, combined with the shrinking unemployment rate and the 223,000 new jobs in April announced last week, show movement in the right direction, he said. Also new this morning, the Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators showed a solid 0.7 percent increase in April, following a 0.4 percent increase in March, and a negative reading in February. “We had the winter lull, and now it seems to be bouncing back. That’s what we want to see,” Hughes said. Those more positive indicators came amid some negative, albeit less prominent ones. The Chicago Fed reported the economy in April performed below its trend growth rate. And the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey came in slightly below the previous month. All in all, “Things are getting better as we expected, but perhaps not as robustly as we had hoped,” Hughes said.