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Unemployment claims drop in Utah while gasoline prices increase

Ending March 19, the four-week average of Utah initial unemployment insurance initial claims measured at 1,120 filings, a 40 percent decrease from the four-week average of 1,870 this time last year.

Weeks claimed numbered 16,610, a decrease of 25 percent compared to last year's 18,130 total, indicated the latest Trendlines report released by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

At the national level, the United States Labor Department indicated that the number of initial unemployment claims filed at locations across the nation climbed to 324,000, up from 321,000 the prior week.

The consumer price index rose 0.4 percent in February, compared with a 0.1 percent gain in January.

The producer price index, the government's key measure of wholesale prices, rose 0.4 percent in February, compared to the 0.3 percent increase seen in January.

The U.S. Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates one quarter point.

The federal agency expected to keep boosting rates at a measured pace.

But the central bank put investors on notice that financial institution was growing more concerned about inflation, pointed out the department of workforce services.

New orders for U.S. durable goods edged up 0.3 percent in February, noted the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In a recent survey of 172 members of the National Association for Business Economics, 27 percent of the respondents said the deficit or government spending was the largest short-term threat to the economy, noted the department or workforce services.

Terrorism dropped to second place on the list, with 24 percent of the respondents classifying it was the biggest threat to the nation's economy.

Gasoline prices have surged more than 10 percent at locations across the nation during in the last month, reported the U.S. Energy Department.

Nevertheless, nationwide figures confirm that the demand for gasoline has risen about 2 percent nationwide from one year ago.

Addressing an unrelated matter, the Utah Transit Authority has released the agency's final study into the environmental impact of a 44-mile rail line from Salt Lake City north to Pleasant View.

If the U.S. Federal Transit Administration signs off on the contents of the environmental study, the UTA can start constructing the new line.

The Utah Transit Authority estimates that the completing the commuter rail project will cost $510 million, concluded the department of workforce services.

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