Recovery? What Recovery? Jobless Claims Jump, Prices Rise

unemployment benefits
unemployment benefits

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits increased by 35,000, to 445,000 last week -- the biggest increase since October. Add the fact that the U.S. Department of Labor just reported big leaps in prices for things like gas, home heating oil, fruits and vegetables, and there are very few Americans who are not feeling the pain economicaly.

U.S. producer prices climbed 1.1 percent in December, as reflected in big gains in the costs of home heating oil (up 12.3 percent), fresh and dry vegetables (up 22.8 percent), and fresh fruits (up 15.4 percent). Optimists point out that inflation, excluding food and energy, rose just 0.2 percent, which is just below analyst estimates -- but whose budgets exclude food and energy?