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Jobless Claims in U.S. Climbed More Than Forecast Last Week

Bloomberg (12/31/14) Shobhana Chandra

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits in the week ended Dec. 27 rose by 17,000 to 298,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The 22 economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast claims of 290,000. The four-week moving average of new claims increased by 250 to 290,750.

Texas Manufacturing Activity Picks Up Pace

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (12/29/2014)

Texas factory activity increased in December from November, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, rose strongly from 6 to 15.8, indicating output grew at a faster pace in December than in November.

Labor market indicators reflected unchanged workweeks but continued employment increases. The December employment index held steady at a solid reading of 9.2, with 17% of firms reporting net hiring compared with 7% reporting net layoffs. The hours worked index dropped from 5.7 to 0, indicating no change in hours worked in December. The wages and benefits index ticked up from 23.9 to 25.1. This index has been consistently elevated this year, suggesting continued upward pressure on compensation costs.

Inflation No-Show Unlikely to Slow Fed Countdown to Rate Liftoff

Bloomberg (12/31/14) Michelle Jamrisko

The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to increase its benchmark interest rate around mid-year due to an improving labor market and anticipated higher wages. Rates have been near zero for six years.

“We’re still saying June with risks to September,” says Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist for Barclays PLC. The Fed “can push rates higher in the middle of the year, even though visually that may look awkward if headline inflation is around zero.”

Staffing Today Returns Jan. 2

In observance of New Year’s Day, ASA headquarters will be closed Thursday, Jan. 1. Staffing Today will return Friday, Jan. 2, 2015.