Jobless Claims (Four-Week Moving Average) Fall for 18th Consecutive Week to a New 16-Month Low
Initial jobless applications increased by 1,000 to 434,000 in the week ended Jan. 2, fewer than the 439,000 claims economists anticipated, Labor Department figures showed today. The number of people receiving unemployment insurance dropped in the prior week to 4.8 million, and those receiving extended benefits increased. Improving sales and production gains are prompting companies to slow the pace of firings as the economy recovers from the worst recession since the 1930s.
“This is clearly a strong number,” said Maxwell Clarke, chief U.S. economist at IDEAglobal in New York, who forecast claims at 435,000. “Looking forward, you should see slow and steady improvement and a return to positive payroll numbers.” The four-week moving average of initial claims, a less volatile measure, fell to 450,250 last week, the lowest since the Sept. 13, 2008, from 460,500 the prior one (see chart above). Claims have fallen 36% since reaching a 26-year high of 674,000 in the week ended March 27.