Jobless Claims Fall, Remain High
The number of people filing new claims for jobless benefits fell to 11,000 to 445,000 this week, the Labor Department reported this morning. Economists had expected claims to remain around 455,000. But, alas, it is not all sunshine and roses in the labor market.
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Initial claims need to fall into the 300,000 range to create a drop in the unemployment rate. The four-week average — a more stable indicator, since the weekly claims tend to jump around — remains above 450,000, at 455,750. That means claims need to subside substantially to imply real economic improvement.
This amounts to another worrying indicator in advance of tomorrow’s major jobs report, when the Department of Labor will release the September unemployment rate. Most economists expect the rate to remain where it is or possibly to inch higher, due to employers’ hesitancy to hire. Yesterday, an independent jobs report indicated that private-sector employers shed workers last month, rather than adding them. The government, too, likely shrank payrolls, as state and local governments fired employees to close their budget gaps.