APRIL 19, 2021 – US RETAIL SALES TAKEOFF IN MARCH
The Commerce Department reported retail sales jumped 9.5 percent in March, with the arrival of government stimulus checks into the hands of the consumers. In other good news, 200,000 fewer workers filed for initial unemployment benefits last week, with jobless claims falling from 769,000 to 576,000 week over week, the lowest since March 2020. The government also announced that industrial production improved by 2.7 percent in March after falling in February.
US consumer confidence is coming in at the highest levels since the pandemic started, with people becoming optimistic at signs of momentum in the recovery and government aid. Since mid-March, the government has distributed over $376 billion dollars to American households. The labor market is also improving, with fewer people collecting unemployment benefits, 16.9 million last week versus 18.2 million a week earlier. However, there are still 8.4 million fewer jobs today than 13 months ago before the pandemic.
Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal forecast US economic output will grow 6.4 percent in 2021, up from 5.95 percent reported in March. As long as there is no resurgence in the virus, the economy should be on track for a stellar year.