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May 16, 2016

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points

  • According to the U.S. Labor Department, 294,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment insurance for the week that ended May 7, up from 274,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first time claims also increased, as did the number of individuals who continued to file for benefits. That figure rose to 2.161 million for the week that ended April 30 from 2.124 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell, however, and was at its lowest level since November 2000. In other employment-related news, the Labor Department also said there were 5.8 million jobs open in the United States in March.  
  • The National Federation of Independent Business’s Index of Small Business Optimism rose to 93.6 in April from 92.6 in March on news that more small employers plan to hire and increase their inventories in the coming months. Despite the increase, NFIB Chief Economist William C. Dunkelberg said, “[S]mall business owners remain extremely pessimistic about the economy, and rightfully so … There is no leadership in Washington, no articulations of a path to a better future, and no evidence that policy-making is focused on promoting economic growth or job creation. The prospects that strong, unifying leadership will emerge after the election also appears to be poor.” 
  • In other economic news: the U.S. producer price index rose 0.2 percent from March 2016 to April 2016, but was flat from April 2015 to April 2016; U.S. import prices rose 0.3 percent from March to April while export prices were up 0.5 percent; the Canadian economy expanded 0.9 percent in 2015.