Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Number of New Unemployment Claims Declines

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Number of New Unemployment Claims Declines

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The number of Americans filing for unemployment help dropped in the third week of July, the government said Thursday and analysts viewed it as a sign the economy is recovering _ but only moderately.

"Nobody knows whether it's just a flash in the pan or something that's sustainable," said Robert Dederick, chief economist at the Northern Trust Co., a Chicago investment company.

The Labor Department said that for the week ending July 20, there were 404,000 Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits, a decrease of 21,000 from the previous week's 425,000.

In another report showing an improving economy, the National Association of Purchasing Management's monthly index rose to 51.8 percent in July compared with a June reading of 50.9 percent.

The two months marked the first time the index, a closely watched barometer of the health of the manufacturing sector, has been above 50 percent since June 1990. A reading above 50 percent is considered a sign of an expanding manufacturing sector while a reading below that level is viewed as an indication that manufacturing is in decline.

In a third report, the Commerce Department said construction spending edged up 0.3 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $400.3 billion, with the increase led by a 2.3 percent jump in residential construction.

In a fourth report, the Conference Board's monthly help-wanted advertising index showed a slight rise for June compared with May, suggesting that more companies are seeking help. But the index, which measures the volume of help- wanted ads in newspapers nationwide, remains well below year-earlier levels.

The reports substantiated the widely held belief that the economy is pushing ahead again, but at a weak pace, analysts said.

Last week, the government reported that the economy began growing again in the April-June period, but the increase in the gross national product, or the total output of goods and services, was a barely perceptible 0.4 percent. It was the first quarterly growth following two straight declines.

Some economists are worried that there will be a "double dip" in the recession, or that economic activity will decline again, following the second quarter's 0. …

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