It’s been a pretty good week in the financial news arena.  Jobless claims have reached a new low, the Dow is set to close up for the week and consumers are spending more than expected.

Pay increases and new jobs

The economy is stable and slowly recovering and that means that more people are starting to look for a better job, especially those that took whatever job they could find during the recession.  One of the perks of finding a new job is a bump in pay, but how much pay should you expect?  Anne Fisher weighs in on the issue in today’s ‘Ask Annie’ column.

“A 10% bump in compensation used to be considered the bare minimum for new hires, and candidates whose skills were in particular demand often commanded twice that much or more, especially when the economy was booming. But alas, those days are gone, even for senior executives.”

Jobless claims at 5-year low

Last week the seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claim number came in at 335,000, down 37,000 from the prior week, reaching a five-year low.  This could bode well for the overall economic recovery as less Americans lose their jobs, there will be less competition for the jobs that are out there.

Garmin – A smart stock move

Garmin tops The Motley Fool’s list of “This Week’s 5 Smartest Stock Moves” thanks to the company’s new pet product line.  That’s right, GPS giant Garmin is introducing a new product line geared at our favorite four-legged friends – dogs.  The Garmin BarkLimiter is a high-tech bark correction advice that can differentiate between barks and other noises.

Food and gas prices lower in December

Food and gas prices were lower in December and the producer price index dropped by .2 percent.  When wholesale prices fall, inflation concerns wane and that is good news for consumers and the nation’s economy.  Consumers have more expendable income at their disposable and the more money that consumers spend, the better the economy gets.

Retail sales increase in December

Speaking of more expendable income, retail sales increased by 0.5 percent in December when compared to the month prior.  This may not sound like much but it is more than double the 0.2 percent forecast.  It wasn’t gadgets and other low or moderately priced items that lead the sales, either, it was automobiles.  

“Much of the gain came from a 1.8% jump in sales at auto dealers, as automakers capped the best year for U.S. car sales in five years with a strong month.”

Weekend reads: Jobs, stocks and the economy
Starting salary expectations, jobless claims reach a new low, Garmin breaks into the pet industry and more.