Retail Sales Up 3.4% Since Last December; Initial Jobless Claims Hit 444KJan 14 2010
January 14, 2010 - High unemployment, combined with cautious consumers, has led U.S. retail sales to unexpectedly drop this past holiday season.
Declining 0.3% for the month of December, the retail report follows the Federal Reserve's recent January Beige Book release, which stated that economic conditions were "modestly" improving.
Despite the marginal decline, holiday retail sales were up nearly 3.4% from last December, showing a slight upturn since 2008.
In addition to the recent retail sales figures, the Labor Department released its initial jobless claims report. Rising roughly 11,000, first time claims for unemployment benefits jumped up to 444,000 for the week ending January 6th. The number of initial jobless claims gauges the pace of layoffs, while also being a heavy indicator of U.S. hiring trends.