Fewer Americans than anticipated filed claims for unemployment insurance last week as an administrative backlog subsided and indicating companies are nearing the end of major staff cuts as the economy recovers.
Initial jobless applications declined by 43,000 to 440,000 in the week ended Feb. 6, the lowest level in five weeks, from 483,000 the prior week, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The total number of people receiving unemployment insurance and those receiving extended benefits decreased.
The fastest pace of growth in six years last quarter means the economy may be poised to add jobs as companies restock shelves to keep pace with increased sales. At the same time, with an unemployment rate projected to average almost 10 percent this year, consumer spending may be slow to recover.
“Things have not really deteriorated,” said Stephen Gallagher, chief U.S. economist at Societe Generale SA in New York. “Unfortunately it doesn’t show much improvement either.”
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