Jobless Claims Hit 45 Year Low
March 29, 2018
House Homeland Security Chairman urges passage of cyber legislation; U.S personal income increases 0.4% in February, matching expectations; U.S. jobless claims decrease to lowest level since January 1973; Consumer sentiment in U.S. surges to the highest level since 2004.
- House Homeland Security Chairman urges passage of cyber legislation. House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is urging the swift passage of a bill that would reorganize a key prong of the government’s defense against cyberattacks, mentioning compounding threats to U.S. critical infrastructure. The bill would reorganize and rename the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) office that secures civilian federal networks and critical infrastructure from cyber and physical threats, changing it from a headquarters component into a stand-alone agency. McCaul has led a multiyear push to reorganize the office, currently called the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). McCaul’s stand-alone bill to reorganize and rename NPPD the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency passed the House in December. A Senate bill reauthorizing Homeland Security would reorganize the cyber office, and was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee earlier in March. The upper chamber first has to take up the legislation for a vote. [The Hill]
Economic Indicators & News
- U.S personal income increases 0.4% in February, matching expectations. U.S. consumer rose marginally for a second straight month in February as households increased their savings. According to the Commerce Department on Thursday, consumer spending – which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity – increased 0.2 percent last month after a similar increase in January. Spending on long-lasting goods, including motor vehicles, rebounded 0.2 percent after tumbling 1.5 percent in January. Outlays on services rose 0.3 percent, which was the same gain as in January. Economists polled by Reuters had expected consumer spending to rise 0.2 percent in February. Additionally, there was a moderation in monthly inflation readings after prices increased in January. The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding the volatile food and energy components gained 0.2 percent last month after rising 0.3 percent in January. [CNBC]
- U.S. jobless claims decrease to lowest level since January 1973. U.S. filings for unemployment benefits unexpectedly decreased last week to the lowest level since January 1973, which is further evidence that the labor market remains tight, according to the Labor Department on Thursday. Jobless claims decreased by 12,000 to 215,000. The claims are now at the lowest level in 45 years, which underscore a persistent shortage of qualified workers that has made employers reluctant to fire staff. Applications for jobless benefits below the 300,000 tally are typically considered consistent with a healthy labor market. Other aspects of the job market appear to be robust, with payrolls exceeding expectations and an unemployment rate near the lowest level since late 2000. Steady employment will help to sustain consumer spending, which comprises the largest part of the economy. [Bloomberg]
- Consumer sentiment in U.S. surges to the highest level since 2004. Consumer sentiment in March rose to the highest level since 2004 as a solid labor market and growth expectations offset concerns about tariffs and stock-market volatility, according to a University of Michigan survey on Thursday. The advance in consumer confidence underscores high levels of consumer sentiment following tax cuts and one-time bonuses that boosted many Americans’ level of take-home pay. Separate data released on Thursday showed signs of robust momentum in the economy, with jobless claims falling to the lowest level since 1973, personal income rising 0.4 percent, and spending expanding 0.2 percent. The data all point to the strength of consumer spending, the largest part of the U.S. economy. [Bloomberg]