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Jobless benefit claim filings decrease throughout Utah

By Sun Advocate

Utah continues to attract newcomers and grow at a faster pace than the nation although the numbers are decreasing.
The latest estimates released by the United States Census Bureau indicate that the nation’s population increased by 1.1 percent or 3.1 million people between July 1, 2001 and July 1, 2002.
By comparison, Utah’s population expanded at a 1.6 percent pace during the designated one-year period.
The census figures show the Beehive State added approximately 37,544 residents, bringing Utah’s total population to 2,278,212.
The population expansion rate puts Utah among the top 10 fastest growing states in the nation, despite a slowly recovering economy, points out the department of workforce services.
Ending Dec. 21, the four-week average of initial unemployment insurance claims filed across Utah registered at 2,439.
The number represents a 26 percent decrease from the 3,288 initial unemployment insurance claims filed last year.
The number of all initial unemployment benefit claims filed statewide for the week totaled 2,721, noted the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
Weeks claimed by displaced workers at locations throughout the state numbered 20,626.
The figure respresents a 15 percent decrease from last year’s 23,668 weeks.
On the national scene, the number new claims for unemployment benefits filed across the U.S. posted the largest plunge since summer 1993.
The nationwide drop in initial unemployment insurance filings offers a dose of encouraging news for a job market that has remained sluggish as companies cope with an uneven economic recovery, reported the U.S. Labor Department.
New claims for jobless benefits decreased by 60,000 to 378,000 for the week.
U.S. durable goods orders fell unexpectedly as demand weakened for long-lasting manufactured goods, explained the U.S. Commerce Department in an agency’ report t underscoring the American business community’s reluctance to spend.
Orders for durable goods – costly items intended to last at least three years – slid 1.4 percent in November after posting a revised 1.7 percent increase in October.
U.S. consumer sentiment brightened in December as Americans looked past a weak labor market and gained optimism from stock market improvements along with the economy’s outlook.
The University of Michigan’s final December consumer sentiment index climbed to 86.7 from an 84.2 in November.
Reeling from a lackluster holiday season predicted by analysts to be the weakest in more than 30 years, U.S. retailers are expected to enter 2003 with steep markdowns on clothing and accessories along with profit forecasts.
The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsu-bishi and UBS Warburg issued a report forecasting an anemic 1.5 percent increase in November and December sales.
The estimate represents the smallest one-year gain since the banks started tracking weekly sales in 1970.
Interest rates on 30-year mortgages dropped to a new low for the eighth time in 2002.
The average interest on a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage fell to 5.93 percent for the week ending Dec. 27. The rate constituted the lowest reported since Freddie Mac began tracking 30-year mortgage rates in 1971.
Sales of new homes surged 5.7 percent in November, confirmed the federal government report defying expectations the booming U.S. housing market would take a breather.
Residential sales climbed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.069 million units from an upwardly revised 1.011 million in October.
Housing has remained a strong focal point in the U.S. economy as low mortgage rates, coupled with moribund stock markets, have enticed Americans to invest in bricks and beams, concluded the latest Trendlines report.

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