After a roller-coaster ride with initial unemployment claims in recent months, last week's unfortunate rise gave way to a more encouraging report from the Department of Labor this morning.
Though last week's figures were revised in the wrong direction, the new totals dropped, even more than expected.
The number of Americans who filed requests for jobless benefits fell by 12,000 last week to 377,000, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday. Claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 389,000 from 383,000. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had projected claims would fall to a seasonally adjusted 380,000 in the week ended June 2. The average of new claims over the past four weeks, meanwhile, edged up by 1,750 to 377,750, the highest level in a month.
It's worth emphasizing that week-to-week results can vary widely, and it's best not to read too much significance into any one report. That said, today's figures offer at least some relief.
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 only managed to dip below the 370,000 threshold once in the last nine 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.