A slew of economic data was released this past week, most of which indicated the economy is on improved footing. Consumers continued to plow money into cars and light trucks, the sales of which have reached pre-recession levels. The growth rate in sales has been declining, but is still at a fairly healthy level. In addition, the continued strength in auto/truck sales bodes well for a declining unemployment rate.
In the employment arena, the most recent data were almost all good. Weekly initial jobless claims were below 300,000. Online help-wanted advertisements rose strongly in November, there were 203,000 net new jobs added to payrolls, and the unemployment rate declined to 7.0%.
The only problems in the employment area continued to be that growth rate in average hourly earnings is very low, the primary area of job growth is in the low-paying service sector, and the percentage of jobs that are part-time