Washington Layoffs are no longer dropping as they were in the final months of last year, reinforcing fears that the jobs crisis will weigh down consumer spending and the economic rebound.
Severe weather contributed to a rise in jobless claims last week. But other economic data add to evidence that the recovery remains weak and uneven.
An example is orders for big-ticket manufactured goods, excluding airplanes and other transportation equipment. Those orders dropped 0.6 percent in January, the government said Thursday.
Earlier in the week, new-home sales fell in January to their lowest pace on record. And consumer confidence plunged in February.
Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo, said the weak reports point to an economy struggling to wean itself from government stimulus programs such as homebuyer tax credits and other supports.