We’ve clearly reached an encouraging point when initial unemployment claims can climb by 10,000, but the overall totals are still near a 15-year low.
The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits in mid-May rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 274,000, hitting the highest level in a month, government figures show. That’s still near a 15-year low, however. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected claims in the seven days stretching from May 10 to May 16 to rise to 269,000 from an revised 264,000 in the prior week.The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, fell by 5,500 to 266,250, the Labor Department said Thursday.
To reiterate the point I make every Thursday morning, it’s worth remembering that week-to-week results can vary widely, and it’s best not to read too much significance into any one report.
In terms of metrics, when jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape. At this point, we’ve been below 300,000 in 30 of the last 36 weeks.
Above you’ll find the chart showing weekly, initial unemployment claims going back to the beginning of 2007. (Remember, unlike the monthly jobs chart, a lower number is good news.) For context, I’ve added an arrow to show the point at which President Obama’s Recovery Act began spending money.