Initial jobless claims rise; orders and shipments of durable goods slip


As the economy struggles to recover, there were two discouraging bits of news Thursday: Initial jobless claims rose last week, and shipments and new orders of durable goods showed weakness in January.

The number of workers filing for unemployment benefits rose by 22,000 last week, to 496,000 from 474,000, according to the Labor Department.

But California saw the deepest drop in the number of claims, with 5,540 fewer filings after layoffs eased in the service industry for the week that ended Feb. 13.

Kentucky had the sharpest jump in jobless claims, with 2,510 more that came after auto industry and manufacturing job cuts.

New orders for manufactured durable goods, excluding transportation equipment, slipped 0.6% in January, to nearly $131 billion, after increasing 2% the month before, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Excluding lagging new defense orders, January orders increased 1.6%.

Transportation equipment was a bright spot, increasing 15.6% to $44.8 billion, led by orders for nondefense aircraft and parts.

Overall, new orders rose 3% to $175.7 billion. Shipments fell, however, after four consecutive increases (including a 2.4% rise in December); they slid 0.2% to $180.7 billion in January.

In this category, transportation equipment performed poorly, plunging 3.5% to $44.6 billion after two previous increases.

Inventories remained relatively even in January at $302.6 billion after falling steadily over the last 13 months.

But stockpiles of computers and electronics plunged 1.2% to $42.9 billion.