The volatility on initial unemployment claims around spring break and Easter appears to be letting up a bit, and there wasn’t much of a change in the new figures from the Department of Labor.
The number of people who applied for new unemployment benefits last week rose by 4,000 to 352,000, indicating little change in a soft U.S. labor market. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims in the week ended April 13 to total a seasonally adjusted 346,000. The average of new claims over the past month, which smooths out weekly volatility, edged up by 2,750 to 361,250, according to the Labor Department. That’s the highest level in two months.
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, and when the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are being created rather quickly. We’ve been below the 370,000 threshold 16 of the last 19 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.