The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits in early May edged down by 1,000 to 264,000, showing the pace of layoffs remains at a 15-year low even though hiring as slow a bit since the end of 2014. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected claims to rise to a seasonally adjusted 275,000 in the week stretching from May 3 to May 9 from an unrevised 265,000 in the prior week. New claims have registered less than 270,000 for three straight weeks, only the second time that's happened since 1975. The last time claims were as low was in the spring of 2000 at the tail end of the Internet boom.
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 29 of the last 35 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.