Despite confusion associated with the impact of an unusually cold and snowy winter, two indicators released this morning (March 13, 2014) indicate some encouraging signs the economy is absorbing any recent weather-related setbacks. The Labor Department released a weekly report on initial jobless claims that revealed they fell last week to 315,000, down from 324,000 the previous week and far below the increase to 330,000 that economists had projected.
Also today, the Commerce Department said retail sales increased .3 percent last month following a .6 percent drop during a frigid January. The sales increase was better than the .2 percent increase economists expected.
Today’s numbers run somewhat counter to NFIB’s January survey of “Small Business Optimism” released earlier this week. It indicated that small business optimism dropped 2.7 points to 91.4, a reading that historically has been associated with recessions and periods of sub-par growth. According to NFIB, the one highlight in the January survey, was a surge in hiring plans.
Do you feel optimistic about your business? About the overall economy? Share your outlook in the comments below.