The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, and today's report offers additional good news.
In fact, the new figures are the best since April 2008, and even exceeded positive expectations.
The number of Americans who filed requests for jobless benefits fell by 6,000 last week to 357,000, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had projected claims would total 360,000, seasonally adjusted, in the week ended March 31. Claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 363,000 from 359,000. The average of new-benefit applications over the past four weeks, meanwhile, dropped by 4,250 to 361,750.
Despite last week's annual revisions, 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.