It doesn't seem that the business press is paying any attention to the data on unemployment claims put out by the Labor Department each week. These reports used to generally earn a small story or mention in a larger story on the release of other economic data.

The weekly data are erratic, but they do give a good current snapshot of the state of the labor market. The Labor Department reported 415,000 new claims last week, partly reversing a big jump to 457,000 claims the prior week. The 4-week average edged by 1,000 to 430,000. The economy did not start creating jobs regularly after the last recession, until claims had fallen below 400,000 in the fall of 2003.

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