The increase of 17,000 in jobless claims to 361,000 during the week ending December 15 was slightly higher than forecasts of 360,000.
 
Analysts say they no longer look for layoffs to factor into the numbers but are waiting for hiring to improve.
 
Consumer spending was also revised upward to 1.6% from the previously reported 1.4%. The increase was primarily due to an increase in healthcare expenditures.
 
Imports are subtracted from gains in GDP and fell .6% during the third quarter, mainly because of lower oil prices. Last month, imports gained .1%.
 
Economic growth in the third quarter improved at a 1.3% rate over second quarter growth.
 
The price index for personal consumer expenditures rose at a 1.6% annualized rate, still below the Fed’s target of 2% or less.
 
On the employment front, about 12 million Americans looking for work still cannot find jobs.
 
Others have simply dropped out of the workforce. This is a concern to policy makers.
 
The number of people filing for unemployment benefits was equivalent to 2.5% of currently employed workers who are paying into the system as of the week ending December 8, a rate that was unchanged from the prior week.

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