April 16 (UPI) — Americans appear to have used some of their stimulus cash at retail outlets last month, as sales nationwide surged by an explosive 10%, according to government figures Thursday.
The Commerce Department said retail sales were up 9.8% for the month of March. The dramatic rise was the best monthly gain since last May (18.3%).
Sporting goods (23.5%), clothing (18.3%) and motor vehicle parts and dealers (15.1%) saw the greatest increases, the report said. Bars and restaurants saw a 13.4% increase in spending as many states loosened COVID-19 restrictions last month.
Many economists expected March sales to increase about 6%.
Meanwhile Thursday, the Labor Department said 576,000 U.S. workers filed new unemployment claims last week, a decline of 193,000 from the previous week.
The new weekly figure is the lowest since March 2020. The four-week moving average declined to 683,000.
The unemployment rate for the most recent week available, ending April 3, was 2.7%, the labor report said.