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Jobless claims improve, remain near 15-year low

Economists expected initial unemployment benefits to tick a little higher in mid-June. Fortunately, the opposite happened.

The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 to 267,000 in the seven days from June 7 to June 13, keeping initial claims near a 15-year low. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected claims to total a seasonally adjusted 279,000. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, dropped by 2,000 to 276,750, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average smooths out sharp fluctuations in the more volatile weekly report and is seen as a more accurate predictor of labor-market trends.

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.
n 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 34 of the last 40 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.