Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits fell 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 393,000 in the week ended Nov. 24, the Labor Department said Thursday. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 416,000 from an original reading of 410,000, based on more complete data collected at the state level. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to drop to 390,000 as the effects of Hurricane Sandy fade.
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 just three of the last eight weeks, though the further we get from Sandy, the more these figures should improve.
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.