This chart shows unadjusted weekly claims and their 52-week moving average. It should be clear that claims are still trending down; in the year ending last week, unadjusted claims are down almost 9%. This continues to be good news for the economy. In fact, it's one of the most important changes on the margin.
In the past year, the number of people receiving unemployment insurance has declined by no less than 20%, or 1.2 million. That's a lot of people with an added incentive to get back to work. Incentives matter.
Announced corporate layoffs remain very low. What's needed most is more hiring, not less firing. The ingredient that is lacking is confidence in the future, not more bank reserves or lower mortgage rates. We'll need to get past the fiscal cliff one way or another before the economy has a chance to strengthen.