US unemployment insurance stays below pre-epidemic levels, consumer spending rises from Reuters

© Reuters. Headquartered in the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, DC, US. REUTERS / Andrew Kelly

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New unemployment claims in the United States remained lower than before the epidemic, while rising consumer spending helped keep the economy afloat by 2021.

However, price pressure continues to rise, with the core inflation index indicating its biggest annual rise since November in the 1980s. Reports released today have come at a difficult time for the nation struggling with an increase in Govt-19 infections driven by the delta variant and the highly contagious Omicron, which could punish economic growth in the first quarter.

According to the Department of Labor, initial applications for state unemployment benefits remained unchanged for the week to December 18, at 205,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. Earlier data showed a decline in subsidies as seen in 1969.

Economists interviewed by Reuters last week estimated an estimated 205,000 claims. This number has dropped to an all-time low of 6,149 million reached at the beginning of April 2020.

A second report by the Commerce Department shows that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, rose 0.6% in November. The October data was revised upwards, an increase of 1.4% over the previously announced 1.3%. The survey for November is in line with estimates by economists interviewed by Reuters.

Inflation rose further in November. The Personal Consumer Price Index (PCE) – excluding volatile components of food and energy prices – rose 0.5% after a similar increase in October.

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In the 12 months to November, the ‘core’ PCE index rose 4.7%. This is the largest increase since the 1980s and follows the 4.2% year-on-year growth seen in October.

(Translated by Enrico Ciacovelli in Kitansk, in Milan Andrea Mandala)

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