The number of people who filed for unemployment benefits decreased in the week ending March 8, according to the Labor Department. Jobless claims fell by 9,000 during the week to stand at a total of 315,000. The decrease of unemployment benefit applications and an increase in retail spending are good signs the economy is starting to improve.
Current jobless claim figures are actually lower than what was originally predicted. According to a survey conducted by Bloomberg, respondents believed the total amount of claims would equal 330,000 for the week. Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale, said the economy could see further growth over the next few months.
"The labor market continues to improve," Jones said. "We're likely to get eye-popping numbers for March payrolls. The economy is not in a soft patch."
Along with a drop in unemployment claims, retail spending increased during February, which is good for the country. Sales in February increased by 0.3 percent, which is the first positive mark in more than three months, according to the Commerce Department.
Several industries showed a healthy amount of growth including motor vehicle sales, building material stores and furniture stores. Retail sales are important figure to track as they account for more than 25 percent of consumer spending. Richard Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial, said the housing industry should be a major economic player once spring arrives.
"We expect higher spending on household services to further lift total consumer spending for the month," Moody said. "We still expect a better pace of job growth to bring better growth in personal income, in turn fueling stronger gains in consumer spending,"
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