Chart: Creeping toward normal

Updated
 
New weekly claims for unemployment insurance.
New weekly claims for unemployment insurance.
Steve Benen chart

If you’re into good news, here’s some:

The number of people filing for state unemployment benefits for the first time fell 23,000 to the lowest level since late February, the government said Thursday.

The Labor Department said claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 381,000 last week.

Steve Benen today starts posting a chart of weekly new claims, and you can see that things are getting better. We’re a world removed from the economic freefall that marked the end of the Bush administration. But we’re still not back to normal.

Long ago, in the dark days of the Great Recession, when I worked for this NPR thing that has to do with the economy, I put together a chart of new weekly claims for unemployment (below). We used what’s called the four-week moving average, which takes out some of the statistical bumpiness, and we tried to figure out when new claims would get back to normal.

That was August 2009. Normal is about 325,000 new claims, give or take 20,000. Claims were falling back then, and if they’d kept falling at that rate, we calculated we’d get to normal the week of April 24, 2010. A year and a half later, we’re still in the weeds. It’s no wonder we see so much frustration with politics now.

An optimistic forecast.

 

Chart: Creeping toward normal

Updated