Mixed economic signals

April's unemployment rate hit 6 percent, up from 5.7 percent in March. Though not good news, unemployment was widely expected to rise to this level before beginning to drop. Reports that demand for temporary workers is rising suggest that companies may be gearing up to hire more personnel soon, fostering hope that unemployment may be nearing its peak. This assumes, of course, that the economic recovery does not falter.

In other economic news, housing starts in April dropped 8 percent from the prior month. Even so, starts remain at a historically high level, exceeding the April 2001 mark by 3 percent.

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