The U.S. economy is giving mixed signals, although the news of reduced jobless claims is a welcome boost to the world’s biggest economy. Jobless claims totaled209,000 in the week ended November 18, which was 24,000 less than in the previous week, according to the Labor Department.
The number of workers filing for the first time for unemployment benefits had the biggest drop in almost five months, indicating the labor market continues to show strength.
Another report from the Labor Department showed that the U.S. economy sharply reduced the pace of job creation in October and the unemployment rate rose to the highest level in almost two years.
A separate set of data from the Commerce Department showed that orders of durable goods, like cars, airplanes, and defense equipment, fell 5.4% in October, the third drop in four months. The contraction was more pronounced than the estimate of 3.4% in a survey of economists.
What does this mean for me?
The Federal Reserve said in the minutes of its last monetary policy meeting that the impacts of high interest rates are still "uncertain." The latest set of conflicting data confirms this.
In the same meeting, the Fed said that the current level of interest rates, the highest in 22 years, is still going to weigh on economic activity, hiring, and inflation.
The central bank started the tightening cycle in March 2022, when the rate was between 0% and 0.25%. Since then, there have been 11 increases.