NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, according to the latest figures from the Labor Department.
Initial jobless claims fell to 420,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 423,000. This is the third time in four weeks that jobless claims dropped.
Moreover, the four-week moving average, considered a better measure because it accounts for temporary spikes in the measure, was 422,750, a decrease of 5,250 from the previous week's revised average of 428,000. This is the lowest level claims have been since Aug. 2008, just before the financial crisis stepped up a notch with the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
At the same time last year there were 490,000 initial claims, and the four-week moving average was 481,250.
So while the latest stats indicate that the job market may be slowly improving, they also illustrate that we still have a way to go. As we’ve reported, in a healthy economy new claims generally fall below 400,000.
Continuing claims for unemployment, on the other hand, totaled 4,135,000 last week, an increase of 22,000 from the 4,113,000 the week before, showing that while fewer people are applying for unemployment benefits, more people are collecting them. Still, the numbers are a marked improvement from last year at this time, when continuing claims totaled 5,320,000.
Americans, it seems, are getting back to work.
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