Jobless claims decline, good omen for small business

March 22, 2013 in

Jobless claims declined while inflation remained modest, which should boost markets.

A total of 332,000 Americans made jobless claims last week, roughly 10,000 fewer than the week before, according to the Department of Labor. Many economists expected the number to rise. In fact, experts polled by Reuters predicted a total of 350,000 claims. However, economic factors driving the labor market seem to be better than expected.

Massachusetts led the way with 4,193 fewer jobless claims than the previous month. In the report, the state cited a decline in layoffs in the educational and transportation industries. California, however, saw an additional 11,720 claims made. The Golden State listed service industry layoffs as the reason for the increase in claims. 

In a second report, the Department of Labor marked an increase in the Producer Price Index of 0.7 percent. The number suggests a rise in inflation. However, most categories remained low while energy prices, which went up 3.0 percent, drove the increase. These figures mark a relatively stable and expected increase in energy prices for February. Without the volatile food and energy markets considered, the PPI increased a modest 0.2 percent. 

The outlook for small business sales is positive given the numbers. If employment numbers continue to improve while prices for goods and services remain modest, most businesses should benefit.

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