Utah, nation struggle to recover from employment losses
Financial problems and employment losses continue to plague residents in Utah and across the United States.
Ending May 11, the four-week average of initial unemployment insurance claims filed across Utah registered at 1,966.
The number represents an increase of 9 percent from last year's average of 1,799.
Personal bankruptcy filings jumped 15.2 percent nationwide during the 12-month period ending March 31.
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts indicates nearly 1.5 million Americans filed for bankruptcy protection within the designated period.
In Utah, personal bankruptcy filings climbed 25 percent during the 12-month period.
Nearly 20,000 Utahns filed for bankruptcy protection.
The number of new jobless claims rose nationwide, registering in excess of 400,000 for two months, reports the U.S. Labor Department.
The data show the highest number of people receiving extended benefits reaching the highest level in more than 19 years.
Economists view jobless claims in excess of 400,000 as a sign of a lackluster labor market, explains the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
Economists also indicate that new hiring typically lags behind other signs of increased economic activity during a recovery.
The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits rose to 3.86 million for the week of the May 4 - a sign U.S. citizens are struggling to find work.
The latest figure is the highest posted since 3.88 million in February 1983.
Compounding the financial woes faced by unemployed Americans, consumer prices in the U.S. posted the biggest jump in nearly a year.
Statistics compiled by the U.S. Labor Department confirm that the consumer price index experienced a sharp 0.5 percent increase in April 2002, the largest gain since May 2001.
A hefty 10 percent rise in gasoline costs helped push up prices. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, the CPI advanced a milder 0.3 percent.
Production by U.S. manufacturing, mining and utilities industries improved in April, boosted by gains in automotive output.
In the agency's monthly report on industrial production, the U.S. Federal Reserve indicated that overall output climbed 0.4 percent, while the amount of capacity in use by firms rose slightly to 75.5 percent.
March production was also revised downward, to a 0.4 percent gain.
Inventories at U.S. businesses fell for the 14th straight month in March to the lowest level in more than two years even as sales rose.
The U.S. Commerce Department issued a report showing companies may need to ramp up production to keep up with demand.
Business inventories in March were down 0.3 percent after witnessing a fall of 0.2 percent in February.
Inventories in March totaled $1.117 trillion, the lowest level since October 1999.
After a tight-fisted March, U.S. consumers splurged in April, boosting retail sales by 1.2 percent, the biggest increase in six months, points out the U.S. Commerce Department.
The April advance came after retail sales nudged up 0.1 percent in March. Increasing retail sales activity was stronger than the 0.6 percent gain nationwide forecast by many analysts.
The nation's trade deficit witnessed a slight improvement in March as sales of U.S. products overseas outpaced an increase in imports.
The March deficit narrowed to $31.6 billion, representing a 0.4 percent improvement from the February trade gap of $31.8 billion - the biggest imbalance reported in 10 months, indicates the U.S. Commerce Department.