Initial Claims Continue to Improve

 
Great news on the labor market.  Initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped 21,000 last week to 381,000, the lowest level since February.  On a weekly basis, initial claims can be volatile, so we also watch the 4-week moving average, which fell to 393,000.  That is well below the 440,000 average that prevailed in April/May.  Continuing claims for regular state benefits plummeted 174,000 last week to 3.58 million, the lowest level since September 2008.  

Already some are saying we should focus on non-seasonally adjusted initial claims, which rose 151,000 last week to 523,000.  But this isn't telling us anything useful.  Non-seasonally adjusted claims always jump in the first week of December.  Last year unadjusted claims rose 173,000 in the same week, the year before claims jumped 211,000, and in 2008 they rose 223,000.  They also always fall significantly the following week.  Focus on what's really important here: the labor market is clearly improving.
Posted on Thursday, December 8, 2011 @ 10:12 AM

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