A measure of U.S. wealth shows Americans are getting richer for the
first time in two years - lending support to the idea that the U.S.
economy is moving toward a recovery.
The Federal Reserve (U.S.
central bank) said Thursday that the net worth of U.S. households
increased by a total of $2 trillion for the April through June period.
Net worth is a measure of household assets after subtracting debts.
officials say the increase was due to rising home prices and gains by
the U.S. stock market, and that many Americans are using their
increased wealth to pay debts.
Earlier, a Labor Department
report showed the number of workers filing for unemployment benefits
for the first time declined last week to the lowest level since early
July. Another report by the U.S. Commerce Department said the number
of new houses under construction jumped 1.5 percent to its highest
level in nine months.
Two other developments are also giving investors and officials reason to believe the American economy is improving.
branch of the Federal Reserve in Philadelphia reported that
manufacturing in the region expanded at the fastest pace since the
And one of the world's biggest package delivery companies said it sees encouraging signs for the overall economy.
U.S.-based FedEx said earnings fell 53 percent for the three months ending in August, but that shipping orders are improving.
economists look at FedEx and rival delivery company United Parcel
Service as indicators of economic health because consumers and
businesses send more packages when they believe economic conditions are
Earlier this week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
said the recession "is very likely over." But he also warned it will
take time for many Americans to feel relief.
Thursday's Labor Department report did find reason to remain cautious.
Officials said the total number of Americans continuing to file for unemployment benefits rose to 6.2 million.