The fewest workers in three years filed claims for U.S. jobless benefits last week, indicating the world’s largest economy is strengthening heading into 2012.
Bloomberg reported that the number of applications for unemployment payments dropped by 19,000 to 366,000 in the week ended Dec. 10, less than the lowest forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and the least since May 2008, according to Labor Department figures issued today in Washington. Other reports showed manufacturing accelerated this month after pausing in November.
“The U.S. economy, unlike the rest of the world, is gathering momentum as we head toward year-end,” said Eric Green, chief market economist at TD Securities Inc. in New York. “The labor market is improving sharply,” he said, and “we look for gains in industrial production.”
A reduction in firings may pave the way for an increase in employment that will help spur consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of the economy. Lean inventories and growing demand may probably spark gains in production that will keep factories at the forefront of the expansion.