The U.S. economy is growing at a tepid pace as jobless claims continue to rise and fall, showing no substantial signs of improvement in the overall job market, government data revealed Thursday.
The third and final estimate for fourth-quarter gross domestic product edged up to an annual rate of 0.4%, an improvement from earlier estimates, but still well below the robust 3.1% GDP growth recorded in the prior quarter. It's also below analyst expectations of 0.6% growth.
GDP measures the total output of U.S. goods and services.
The Labor Department also reported that jobless claims rose by 16,000 filings to 357,000 for the week ending March 23.
Neither figure induces much optimism, but analysts with Econoday blame lackluster fourth-quarter growth on "temporary factors, including weather."
"Even though the final number for fourth quarter GDP was a little below expectations, the data are looking somewhat stale," Econoday said. "For the U.S. there are headwinds, but for now the economic boat is tacking moderately well."
As a whole, jobless claims continue to offer no evidence of a long-term recovery, but Econoday believes the labor market is healing.
"Last week was not a great week for jobless claims but the trend still points to improvement for the labor market. Initial claims rose 16,000, which is the sharpest increase of the year, an analyst with Econoday said.