Jobless Claims Fall to 2-1/2 Year Low
CNBC -- "New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to touch their lowest level in more than 2-1/2 years, while nonfarm productivity rose as expected in the fourth quarter. The four-week moving average of unemployment claims—a better measure of underlying trends—dropped 12,750 to 388,500 last week, the lowest since July 2008 (see chart above).
Claims have now held below the 400,000 threshold for a second straight week. Claims below that level are widely viewed as signaling strong jobs growth and economists believe it is only a matter of time before this is reflected in the payrolls numbers."
MP: The chart below shows jobless claims over a longer period, back to 2000. With the four-week average dropping consistently since the end of the recession, and now falling below 400,000 for the first time since mid-2008, jobless claims are now at a level consistent with the economic recovery period of 2002-2004. The labor market is gradually stabilizing, and we can look for ongoing jobs gains this year and a gradual decrease in the jobless rate.