MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming next on The World and Everything in It, the Monday Moneybeat.
NICK EICHER, HOST: More terrific news on jobs. A report from the Labor Department that gives us a picture of job security in this country shows the job climate is as healthy as it’s been in almost 50 years. The report tracks the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits. And for the last four years that number’s been consistently below 300,000. For economists who keep track of these things, that number is historically low and that’s positive. But to give you an idea of how good last week’s report is, the jobless-claims number fell below 200-thousand. It’s not been that low since September 1969.
REICHARD: Now a report from the Commerce Department on retail sales. That also was a happy surprise. In the month of March, American retailers sold 1.6 percent more goods and services than they did in February. That month-on-month rise is the best increase in a year and a half.
Retail sales account for about 70 percent of our Gross Domestic Product. So when sales are up, GDP typically follows. Next week, we’ll have the government’s GDP estimate for the first quarter of this year, and even the most optimistic economists have been bracing for lackluster growth.
This retail sales report for March, though, is an indication that GDP report at least shouldn’t be any worse than expected.
EICHER: On Wall Street, it was a four-day trading week, because the markets closed in observance of Good Friday. It was a week of mixed results. The Standard & Poor’s 500 ended the short week down one-tenth of a percent and that broke its three-week winning streak. The index of smaller company stocks also fell. The Russell 2000 off 1.2 percent. Gaining ground were the Dow Jones Industrials and the Nasdaq, which is an index dominated by tech stocks.
And that is today’s Monday Moneybeat.