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Weekly claims make scant progress, but that's not bad news





Weekly unemployment claims have been in a relatively flat trend this year, averaging 462K per week, only slightly more than the 456K reported for the most recent week. Does this mean the jobs market is stalling? That's what many doom-and-gloomers would have you believe. Alan Reynolds has a nice op-ed in today's WSJ, in which he pokes fun at those who twist and turn the data to make things look worse than they really are: Don't Believe the Double-Dippers. I generally agree with Alan on most things, and this time is no exception.

Although there has been no appreciable decline in claims so far this year, there is also no evidence of any deterioration. And as I noted last Friday, the household survey says there have been about 1.3 million jobs created in the private sector so far this year—that trumps flat claims in my book. Moreover, as the second chart shows, the number of claims relative to total payrolls continues to inch down, and is not particularly high to begin with, when viewed from a long-term historical perspective. And speaking from an historical perspective, it is not unusual at all for claims to be flat even as the economy is expanding.

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