The number of Americans who filed requests for jobless benefits fell by 5,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 359,000, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday. The latest data includes the government's annual seasonal-adjustment revisions extending back five years, which have resulted in a small increase in weekly claims. The number of new applications for benefits last week, for example, was originally reported at 348,000.
The revisions now put last week's level of claims at 364,000, a 4.6% increase. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch projected claims would fall to 345,000 in the week ended March 24, but those estimates did not factor in the revisions. The average of new claims over the past four weeks, meanwhile, dropped by 3,500 to 365,000, a four-year low.
The same metrics still apply: 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 actually being created rather quickly.
And with that, here's the chart -- which reflects the revised, seasonably-adjusted data -- 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.