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Workforce department compiles Utah's jobless, bond rating data

Ending June 8, the four-week average of initial unemployment insurance claims filed in Utah registered at 1,821. The figure represents a 20 percent increase from last year.

The number of all initial unemployment initial claims totaled 2,140 statewide, indicated the latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Weeks claimed numbered 20,252, jumping 49 percent when compared to 2001.

Workforce services received more than 6,300 applications for food stamps in April for a 22 percent increase from last year. Food stamp recipients registered at 36,759, an increase of 14 percent over April 2001.

In addition, approximately 2,200 Utah households applied for benefits funded by temporary assistance to needy families, up 19 percent statewide from last April.

Households with benefits funded by temporary assistance to families numbered 8,868 in April 2002, up 7 percent from 2001.

The number of applications filed for child care assistance registered at 1,646, registering 12 percent higher statewide than last year.

Utah's general assistance program accepted 857 applications, representing a 27 percent increase from 2001.

The general assistance program reported 1,481 cases in April 2002, up 19 percent.

Youth receiving child care subsidies in Utah climbed 22 percent from 10,403 last year to 12,686 in April 2002.

On a more positive note, the workforce services department pointed out that Utah managed to retain a triple-A bond rating despite falling into an economic quagmire.

The three nationally recognized agencies recently issued Utah the top credit rating.

The rating should translate into millions of dollars in debt payment savings for state building and road construction, added workforce services.

At the national level, the country's economic recovery progressed at a modest pace in late April and May, according to the United States Federal Reserve said.

For the most part, manufacturers - hardest hit by last year's recession - reported higher production levels, shipments and orders.

But pockets of weakness occurred in the nation's manufacturing sector as aircraft part orders dropped and demand for telecommunications equipment remained weak.

Retail sales were flat across the U.S., hampered by unusually cool weather. Automobile sales were mixed.

Home sales generally remained robust as low mortgage rates motivated buyers nationwide. Commercial properties continued to struggle and the job market was sluggish.

The number of Americans filing unemployment insurance claims climbed slightly, pointed out the U.S. Labor Department.

Initial jobless claims rose by 6,000 nationwide to a seasonally adjusted 390,000 for the week ending June 8, remaining below the key 400,000 level considered to be indicative of a recession in the labor market.

The four-week moving average of initial jobless claims, considered more reliable because the data iron out weekly fluctuations, fell by 8,750 to 402,500, the lowest level reported nationwide in almost three months.

According to the producer index, wholesale prices declined 0.4 percent in May, primarily reflecting lower costs for gasoline and other energy products.

May marked the second consecutive month in which prices paid to factories, farmers and producers fell, suggesting that inflation continues to be under control.

In April, wholesale prices dipped by 0.2 percent at locations across the U.S.

Overall retail sales slid 0.9 percent nationwide in May and a smaller 0.4 percent excluding autos, indicated the U.S. Commerce Department.

The decline posted by the nation's restail sales sector represents the largest since the 2.6 percent drop the industry reported furing November 2001.

Hit hard by the economic recession experienced nationwide last year, America's manufacturing division appeared to be on the comeback trail in May, explained the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Industrial production climbed for the fifth straight month, with production at factories, mines and utilities rising 0.2 percent.

Businesses operating in the U.S. had less equipment sitting idle as capacity utilization rose to 75.5 percent from 75.4 percent in April.

American companies whittled excess inventories by 0.2 percent in April, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

The goods and mechandice stockpile reduction pushed the value of inventories down to $1.1 trillion, the lowest level posted by the nation's manufacturing division in more than two years.

U.S. imports remained flat in May as falling motor vehicle and capital goods costs offset price rises for petroleum and industrial supplies, pointed out the federal government in a recently released report.

The report contained little evidence of import inflation pressures, according to latest Trendlines information released by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

With regard to the private sector, the state and federal agencies indicated that American consumers increased borrowing activities during April 2002, especially involving credit card purchases.

Consumer borrowing expanded nationwide at the fastest pace reported in the last five months.

Consumer credit rose at a 6.3 percent annual rate, reported the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The 6.3 percent growth rate in overall borrowing in April marked the biggest increase since November 2001, when consumer credit shot up at a rate of 15 percent nationwide.

U.S. stocks fell, finishing a fourth-straight losing week.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped below 1,000 for the first time since Sept. 27, 2001.

For the week, the S&P 500 dropped 3.1 percent, the Dow declined 2 percent and the Nasdaq decreased 4.3 percent, concluded the state and federal agencies.

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