GDP, Jobless Claims Improve

GDP, Jobless Claims Improve

First-claims for unemployment benefits edged downward last week, the government said in a report with positive implications for freight transportation, while the estimate of second quarter economic growth was revised upward slightly.

Unemployment numbers are closely watched for their impact on shipping. The unemployment rate, currently 9.6 percent, has been blamed for contributing to uneven retail sales and a weak housing market, both of which affect freight transportation.

The Labor Department said first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by 16,000 to 453,000 in the week ended Sept. 25, lower than economists’ consensus forecast of 460,000. The latest number indicates employers aren’t adding many jobs but aren’t cutting them at the rate they once were.

By The Numbers: JOC-ECRI Industrial Price Index.

GDP includes services as well as goods production and is not considered by most economists as a good proxy for transportation activity. Gross domestic product increased 1.7 percent from the first quarter to the second, largely because of increased personal consumption and increased real nonresidential fixed investment, the Commerce Department said. The last previous estimate had been 1.6 percent. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 3.7 percent.

The slowing in the GDP growth rate in the second quarter reflected a jump in imports, which count as a negative in GDP, and in private inventory investment. Those factors were partially offset by an upturn in personal spending, housing investment, and growth in nonresidential fixed investment and government spending.

-- Contact Joseph Bonney at jbonney@joc.com.