Jobless claims down 17,000; 4-week average also down
In the week ending 4 Dec 2010, initial claims for unemployment insurance in the US fell to a seasonally-adjusted figure of 421,000. This is a decrease from the revised 438,000 measured the week prior. The more followed 4-week average figure also fell to 427,500, down 4,000 from the week-ago period.
Notice that the non-seasonally adjusted numbers are much higher because of heavy seasonal adjustments during the holiday season. As I indicated last week, any number over 400,000 is indicative of a weak labour market. When recession began in December 2007, claims were running at only 340,000. However, because recessions are measured by growth or decline and we are coming off a low base, these are not numbers indicative of recession. Average initial claims are now down 60,000 over the last year and 30,000 over the past six months. So the labour market is weak but marginally improved.