Year slogs forward with rising gas price, jobless numbers
The Kansas City Star
If this year were a runner, it would be off to a slow, arthritic start.
The pain would be in the unemployment rate crimping the U.S. economic stride. Unemployment in January compared to November and December ticked up a tenth of a percentage point to 7.9 percent, the Labor Department reported today. About 157,000 jobs were added.
That’s fairly good. But then the economy’s knees picked up a hitch in gasoline prices increasing in January from under $3 a gallon to close to $3.50. That extra ache hurts people at least as much as the payroll tax cut being added back this month, and it shows in shorter paychecks.
The stock market enjoyed a great January with the Dow approaching 14,000. But the economy remains sluggish with government and other spending stumbling more than anticipated.
The first quarter will tell whether consumers ignore the paycheck dip and the gas pump hit and keep the forward stride in the the housing, home repair and auto sales markets or stop to take a breather, sensing a tough European-like recession ahead in the U.S.