Gas prices continue to rise as demand picks up, the dollar remains weak, and prices for crude oil continue to rise. Average gasoline prices exceeded $3 this week for the first time since late 2008. This important barrier has been breached after a 4% rise over the past month. Prices are 16% higher than they were a year ago and with the onset of winter many experts are predicting these prices to continue to rise. The highest price outside of Hawaii was found in California at $3.27 a gallon and the lowest price was found in Colorado at $2.75.
Unemployment claims continued a long term downward trend as they dropped another 3,000 last week to 420,000. The rate has been stuck between 400,000 and 500,000 for over a year now but for the past three months has been trending down. Economists know that this rate needs to get below 400,000 to have an effect on the national unemployment rate. Let’s hope we can reach that as early as possible in 2011.
The last report that was released this morning reviews the nation’s factory output in November. Orders for long lasting manufactured goods rose not counting airplanes rose 2.4% last month. This is the largest increase since March and ignores airplanes as the transportation sector which includes autos as well is extremely volatile on a month to month basis. This increase in orders gives hope to many who expect hiring to go up as well as factories try to meet the demand of the rebounding middle class.
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