US Jobless Claims Decline Slightly

Posted October 13th, 2011 at 9:21 am (UTC-5)
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Economic reports published Thursday show a slight improvement in the U.S. job market, while the trade deficit was nearly unchanged.

The Labor Department says the number of Americans signing up for unemployment compensation declined by 1,000 to a total of 404,000 last week.

While that is an improvement, the nationwide total is still higher than it would be if the job market was healthy.

Separate data show the gap between what the United States sells abroad and what it buys from foreigners was essentially unchanged in August.

The trade deficit was $45.6 billion for the month. Economists say a trade deficit is a drag on economic growth. That is because the deficit shows that a large portion of goods purchased by Americans are produced overseas by foreign workers.

The trade deficit data was published one day after the U.S. Congress approved free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Supporters say the deals will boost trade by billions of dollars and create or preserve hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs. Critics of the new free trade deals, including labor unions, say previous free trade agreements hurt U.S. workers.