Applications for jobless aid plummet
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, signaling that the job market might be stronger than March’s weak month of hiring suggested.
Applications for unemployment aid dropped 42,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The decline nearly reversed an increase over the previous three weeks. The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, rose 3,000 to 358,000.
The number of unemployment applications has been volatile in the past two weeks largely because of the Easter holiday, a department spokesman said.
Zuckerberg starts political group
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley leaders have formally launched a political group aimed at revamping immigration policy, boosting education and encouraging investment in scientific research.
Zuckerberg announced the formation of Fwd.us (pronounced “forward us”) in an op-ed article in The Washington Post late Wednesday night. In it, he said the U.S. needs a new approach to these issues if it is to get ahead economically. This includes offering a path to citizenship for the 11 million or so immigrants who now live in the U.S. illegally.
Consumers hold down spending
So much for new spring shorts and T-shirts. As cold weather lingered across most of the country, Americans shopped modestly in March.
U.S. retailers reported a key revenue figure rose slightly during the month, as shoppers held back on spending because of the cold weather across the nation, particularly the Midwest and East Coast, and continued fears about the economy.
According to a preliminary tally of 15 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers, revenue in stores open at least a year rose 1.4 percent, or 2.2 percent excluding drugstores. That was below expectations, said Michael Niemira, chief economist at the ICSC.