Jobless claims rise again

Jobless claims rise again
Jobless claims rise again

The roller-coaster ride with initial unemployment claims continues. Whereas last week’s report offered a little encouragement, today’s report from the Department of Labor this morning did the opposite.

With revisions once again pointing in the wrong direction, the new totals inched higher, despite expectations to the contrary.

The number of Americans who filed requests for jobless benefits rose by 6,000 last week to 386,000, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday. Claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 380,000 from 377,000. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had projected claims would fall to a seasonally adjusted 376,000 in the week ended June 9. The average of new claims over the past four weeks, meanwhile, increased by 3,500 to 382,000, the highest level in six weeks.

It’s worth emphasizing that week-to-week results can vary widely, and it’s best not to read too much significance into any one report. That said, it’s hard to feel good about today’s figures.

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 only managed to dip below the 370,000 threshold once in the last 10 weeks, and for three consecutive weeks, we’ve seen 380,000 or more.

And with that, here’s 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.