Last week’s drop in initial unemployment claims helped lead economists to predict continued good news this morning, but according to the new figures from the Labor Department, that’s not quite what happened.
Initial jobless claims rose by 8,000 to 339,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected claims to fall slightly to 330,000. The four-week moving average was 334,000, an increase of 250 from the previous week’s revised average of 333,750.
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. At this point, despite the recent spike, we’ve been below 370,000 in 17 of the last 18 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.