New Unemployment Insurance Claims: Which Way Is Up?

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Thursday, 21 April 2011 09:18

The headline of the WSJ article on weekly unemployment insurance filings told readers, "jobs data signal progress." The article then went on to tell readers that:

"Initial jobless claims decreased by 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 403,000 in the week ended April 16."

It's always good to hear that unemployment claims are down from the prior week, except the prior week's number was a jump of 31,000 from the level reported two weeks earlier. This means that the number reported for last week was still 18,000 higher than the the number of claims reported two weeks earlier. In fact, this is the first time that we have seen two consecutive weeks in which claims have exceeded 400,000 since January.

We always need the caveat that weekly jobless claim numbers are erratic, and two weeks does not establish much of a pattern. But it is clear that the news in this report suggests that the economy is going in the wrong direction, except to the WSJ.