June 20 - Jobless claims rose a stronger-than-expected 18,000 during the week the Labor Department compiles data used for the key monthly jobs report. Conway G. Gittens reports.
The Daily Digit is 18,000. That's the jump in the number of Americans who lined up for first-time unemployment benefits last week, which was more than expected. How many people are standing on the unemployment line holds even more significance last week, because that's the week the Labor Department speaks to companies about new hires in order to come up with the monthly payroll numbers released on the first Friday of each month. And keep in mind- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the labor market is one of the keys, inflation being the other, that will determine when the Fed starts slowing down its purchases of bonds - and that could happen later this year if the economy and labor market continue to improve. The Fed's $85 billion a month program has kept interest rates historically low. That said, economists say last week's jump in jobless claims suggest steady job growth, but not enough to substantially bring down the unemployment rate.