Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Decline

Last Updated Mar 3, 2011 12:31 PM EST

Good news on initial claims for unemployment Insurance:
In the week ending Feb. 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 368,000, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 388,000. The 4-week moving average was 388,500, a decrease of 12,750 from the previous week's revised average of 401,250.
Via Calculated Risk, here's a graph of the 4-week moving average of weekly claims for the last 40 years:

Weekly Unemployment Claims Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery.
The average is now 388,500, a decrease from last week's figure. This puts claims into the range where jobs are being created rather than lost (the cutoff is roughly 400,000, see here).

However, while this is good news, we should keep it in perspective. The employment "barrel" is now far less than full due to the recession, we've lost millions of jobs, and we are just beginning to add jobs to the barrel once again. But, unfortunately, we're still a long way from having the employment barrel be full again. And as population grows, the size of the barrel increases and this makes it even harder to refill the jobs barrel. That is, to keep the employment level from falling even further as the barrel size increases from natural population growth, we have to fill the barrel up with new jobs faster than its size is expanding. Right now we are putting more into the barrel, but we are not yet doing so at a rate fast enough to keep to refill the barrel.

However, the rate of job creation is difficult to estimate from these data. We'll know more about the rate of job creation with the employment report that comes out tomorrow, and let's hope it also brings good news.