Business Week Index: The Week Ahead
INSTALLMENT CREDIT Tuesday, Mar. 7 Consumers probably added about $9 billion more to their debt burdens in January. That's the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. Installment credit had soared through much of 1994, with a peak of $15.2 billion added in August. So, debt as a percentage of disposable income rose by a full percentage point, hitting 17.8% by yearend. But in December, debt grew by a relatively modest $7.4 billion, and the expected gain in January may signal that households are pulling back on their use of credit cards as they also moderate their spending. In fact, the addition to revolving credit, which encompasses credit cards, slowed sharply in December compared with the previous two months. UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS Thursday, Mar. 9, 8:30 a.m. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits probably fell back to around 325,000 for the week that ended on Mar. 4. Filings had jumped to a 349,000 pace in the week of Feb. 17, one of the highest levels in the past year. EMPLOYMENT Friday, Mar. 10, 8:30 a.m. The MMS median forecast for nonfarm payrolls calls for a solid increase of 240,000 in February, almost twice the 134,000 new jobs created in January. However, the range of employment projections is quite wide, from a small 101,000 new jobs to a huge 350,000. In 1994, nonfarm payrolls expanded by almost 3.5 million, but higher interest rates and a slower economy mean that job growth won't be nearly as fast this year. The MMS survey also calls for a February gain of 25,000 new factory jobs, on top of 35,000 new hires in December and 39,000 jobs in January. The unemployment rate, which ticked up to 5.7% in January from 5.4% in December, is expected to slip slightly, to 5.6%. That's still low enough to generate fears about wage pressures and inflation.
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