Two reports on the U.S. job market provided more bleak economic news on Thursday, with employers cutting a surprising number of jobs and more Americans filing for unemployment benefits than economists had expected.
The Labor Department said that jobless claims jumped 15,000 last week, whereas the consensus estimate was for a decline of 9,000 claims, according to
. In addition, a monthly jobs report from
showed that companies slashed 33,000 nonfarm private jobs, about 3,000 more than expected.
Jobs cuts were found in the manufacturing, construction and financial services sectors, which have been suffering declines through most of the year. Small businesses and the services industry offset some of the losses in large, goods-producing firms.
If the official government report, set to be released on Friday, supports the ADP data, the U.S. workforce will have contracted in each of the first eight months of the year. However, the data are not surprising, says Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, which puts together the jobs report in conjunction with ADP.
"Our challenges aren't over yet," he says.
"This is another in a growing string of reports that suggest employment has ground to a halt," says Prakken. However, it's "consistent with an economy that is growing slowly but not in recession."
A recession would provide job losses on the order of hundreds of thousands, Prakken adds, rather than tens of thousands.