In a bit of conflicting economic news, national jobless claims climbed unexpectedly last week even as positive growth reports came from two economic sectors. The short week that included Thanksgiving saw 6,000 people filing for unemployment, bringing the total new claims to 402,000, Bloomberg reports. That surprised forecasters who had expected a drop to 390,000. Reuters points out that "initial claims below the 400,000 mark are normally seen as pointing to some healing in the jobs market" and Bloomberg notes that "some companies are still trimming staff and others are reluctant to add workers until demand picks up and there’s more clarity on tax breaks due to expire at year-end." Economist Russell Price told Bloomberg, "Companies are still in a mode of hiring based on absolute need."
But the discouraging employment data comes as some economic sectors boast growth: Construction spending in the United States rose 0.8 percent "seasonally adjusted annual rate of $798.5 billion" in October, the Associated Press reported. That's the third straight month of growth, but it's still "barely half the $1.5 trillion that economists consider healthy." Manufacturing, however, posted its fastest growth since June, the AP reports: "The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Thursday that its manufacturing index rose to 52.7 in November, up from 50.8 in October. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion." Unfortunately, the increased spending didn't translate to increased hiring: "Factories added workers last month, but at a slower pace than the previous month." Frustrating.