The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, though there have been occasional setbacks. Today's report appears to be one of them.
Though still low by recent standards, filings went up over the last week, a little more than expected.
Jobless claims in the U.S. rose to the highest level in five weeks, climbing by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had estimated claims would rise to 355,000 in the week ended March 3. Claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 354,000 from 351,000. The four-week average of claims, meanwhile, rose by a scant 250 to 355,000. The monthly average smoothes out seasonal quirks and provides a more accurate view of labor-market trends.
In terms of metrics, keep in mind, when these jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it's considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape. When the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly.
Though today's report is disappointing, we've now been below 370,000 for five consecutive weeks, and six of the last eight weeks.
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.