Another week. Another job metric. And like all of these labor-related statistics in recent weeks, what we've got here is a little good news and a little bad news.
First, the good. Today, the Department of Labor said that the number of new people who applied for jobless benefits fell by 24,000 last week. That number came to 601,000 for the week ended June 6, which is down from 625,000 in the prior week -- representing a tiny surprise to many analysts that expected a smaller drop.
It's also the fourth straight week that initial claims fell or didn't change at all.
Analysts try to interpret data about unemployment benefits to get a sense of hirings and firings around the country. Thus, a drop in initial claims could be good sign of economic recovery.
The four-week moving average for initial claims, which helps to iron out many of the swings in claims during the month, fell too. That number decreased by 10,500 to 621,750 in the same week-over period.
But what's job data without some wrinkles? The department also reported that the number of people continuing to claim unemployment benefits came to a record high, growing to 6.82 million. That represents an increase of 59,000 from the week prior. Those figures trail initial claims numbers by a week, so they represent totals for the week ended May 30.
Even more, the department revised last week's continuing unemployment benefits number, turning what was reported last week as a drop of 15,000 into an increase of 7,000.
Florida reported the biggest drop in initial claims, which the state attributed to fewer layoffs across the board in construction, trade, service, manufacturing and agriculture. Illinois was next, followed by Michigan, which had 4,385 fewer initial claims thanks to fewer layoffs in the automobile industry. California, Texas, New Jersey and Kentucky round out the top seven states with the biggest decreases in initial claims.
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