U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says the government's vast $787 billion stimulus package is working.
|Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the economy and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, 3 Sep 2009|
The measure was approved months ago, but much of the money has not yet been spent. Critics say the plan is overly complex, but Biden told a Washington audience it has improved "the trajectory of our economy."
He spoke about the same time a report showed the services sector of the economy shrank at a slower pace in August than the previous month, and has nearly returned to growth. Services make up the bulk of the U.S. economy.
Earlier, a government report showed the number of newly-laid off Americans signing up for unemployment aid fell slightly last week (by 4,000 to a total of 570,000) while the number of people getting long-term unemployment compensation grew significantly (by 92,000 to exceed 6.2 million).
Many economists say the recession has eased, but they still predict that the jobless rate will continue to rise because employment lags behind changes in other parts of the economy.
We will get a clearer picture Friday, when the government publishes new data on the unemployment rate.
Economists surveyed by the Bloomberg financial news service predict the unemployment rate will increase slightly from 9.4 percent.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.