Weekly Industry Crib Sheet: New Jobless Claims Fall Below Key Level

Plus: U.S. Economic Growth Slows and Sustainable Packaging to Top $107 Billion in 2011.



U.S. Economic Growth Slows in Q2
The United States economy has slowed, with gross domestic product (GDP) expanding at a 1.3 percent annual rate in the second quarter after a downwardly revised 0.4 percent gain in the first quarter, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported last week. This was the weakest six-month period since the recovery began in the second quarter of 2009.

The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 1.8 percent increase in Q2 from a previously estimated 1.9 percent rate in Q1.

The increase in real GDP in Q2 primarily reflected positive contributions from exports (+6 percent), nonresidential fixed investment (+6.3 percent) and federal government spending (+2.2 percent).

Growth in Q2 was held down by state and local government spending (-3.4 percent) and weak consumer spending (+0.1 percent). Real personal consumption expenditures in Q2 had the smallest gain since Q2 2009.

“At $13.27 trillion in the second quarter, GDP has yet to surpass the pre-recession peak,” Bloomberg says.

Data revisions going back to 2003 also showed that the 2007-2009 recession was deeper, and the recovery to date weaker, than had been estimated. According to the Commerce Department, the U.S. economy “contracted by 5.1 percent between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of 2009, more than the 4.1 percent previously estimated,” MarketWatch reports.

New Jobless Claims Fall Below Key Level
For the first time since early April, the number of people who filed for initial jobless benefits fell below the crucial 400,000 mark in the latest week reported, the U.S. Department of Labor reported last week. Generally, requests must fall below this number to indicate healthy job growth and strong hiring conditions.

In the week ending July 23, initial unemployment applications fell by 24,000 people to total 398,000.

The decline was “likely aided by manufacturing workers who were temporarily laid off returning to their jobs after plants were retooled,” MarketWatch says. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected new requests for jobless benefits to fall to 413,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised 422,250.

“Economists cautioned that the lower level of unemployment benefit applications only reflects one week of data and that doesn’t necessarily signal a trend,” the Associated Press notes.

Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, a less volatile measure, dropped to 413,750, the lowest since the week of April 23. The number of Americans who continue to receive state unemployment checks decreased by 17,000 to 3.7 million in the week ending July 16.

Eco-Friendly Packaging Market Forecast to Top $107 Billion in 2011
The global market value for the green- and sustainable-packaging market is projected to reach $107.7 billion in 2011, according to a new report from Visiongain.

The analyst firm’s forecast is predicated on rising consumer concern for packaging that is eco-friendly and represents reduced carbon emissions and waste in production and disposal. Additionally, the sustainable packaging markets in North America and Western Europe are being joined by above-average growth in developing economies in Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

The sustainable- and green-packaging markets remained stable during the economic trouble of the last few years due to steady consumer demand for environmentally conscious packaging. Growth over the next year will be a product of “rising environmental awareness, food and safety concerns, growing GDPs in developing nations, enhanced purchasing power, changing lifestyle and increasing consumer inclination towards reusable and recyclable packing,” according to Visiongain.

Advanced technology in packaging is forecast to help sustain growth, although countries with poor recycling infrastructure, in addition to regulatory issues and limited consumer demand, are expected to hamper market growth to an extent.

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Comments:
  • August 1, 2011

    It seems we are getting better at doing things such as going “green”, but overall I think we will be doing less of them. I am not an economist, but I think QE3 is on the horizon.


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