Mixed fortunes for the US economy in August, according to two government departments.

Sales of new and existing homes soared at a combined annual rate of 7.62 million during the month, a record, reported the Commerce Department. But orders for durable goods (those intended to last upward of three years) fell unexpectedly by 0.9%.

Meanwhile, the employment situation remained of concern to the Labor Department (and the jobless). Although first-time unemployment claims fell from 400,000 to 381,000 during the week to September 20, the more reliable four-week moving average remained above the 400,000 mark – a total seen by many economists to indicate weakness in the nation’s financial state.

Opined Cathy E Minehan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston: “Without follow-through from significant job growth and the income generation it begets, the current upsurge in consumer spending could be jeopardized.”

Agreed her colleague Donald L Kohn: “It will be a while before we can be sure that a self-sustaining expansion is under way of sufficient strength and persistence to put the economy back on a path toward full employment.”

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff