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Weekly claims in perspective

Much has been made of the fact that weekly claims for unemployment have failed to fall below 400K for 17 or 18 weeks. From a purely historical perspective, 400K claims per week is indeed pretty high, considering the average of the past 40 years is 375K. But from a relative perspective, which acknowledges that today's workforce is much larger than it was 40 years ago, weekly claims are relatively low. The chart above shows claims as a percent of the number of people working; over the past 40 years that has averaged 0.36%, whereas today it is only 0.3%.

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