The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits rose slightly in the first week of June but remained near a 15-year low amid a sharp upsurge in hiring over the past few years. Initial jobless claims edged up by 2,000 to 279,000 in the seven days from May 31 to June 6, the government said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected claims to total a seasonally adjusted 275,000. Initial claims have been under the key 300,000 mark for 14 weeks in a row, a feat last accomplished 15 years ago. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, rose by 3,750 to 278,750, the Labor Department said.
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 33 of the last 39 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.