Gloomy Data: Jobless Claims & Retail Sales

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New claims for unemployment benefits dipped slightly last week, but the number of people continuing to receive benefits reached its highest level in more than 25 years. First time claims for unemployment dropped by 4,000.

The number of people who continue to receive unemployment benefits increased by 122,000 to 3.84 million. That is the highest number since 1983 when the United States was pulling out of what had been a deep recession.

Thursday the nation's retailers are also reporting sales information for October. The news they relay is one of severe contraction in consumer spending in October. Wal-Mart bucked the trend and reported a 2.4% increase sales. Many other retailers, however, report sharp drops as consumers, worried about recession and job cuts, dramatically reduced spending.

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