Initial claims for unemployment have been declining for almost four years. They've been following the pattern set by every recession in the past 40 years. What's not to like? Claims are now within shouting distance of their all-time lows as a percent of the workforce and of the labor force. They are not likely to decline by much more. Businesses have just about finished tightening their belts; most businesses in the country have just about finished adjusting to the new realities of this economy.
The number of people receiving unemployment benefits has declined by 1.4 million in the past year, or 21%, and almost two million new jobs have been created in the past year. These are significant changes on the margin that happen only when the economy's health is improving. This is a genuine recovery, yet it seems that many people refuse to believe it because there remains a significant shortfall in the number of new jobs created. It may be a disappointingly slow recovery, but it is a recovery nonetheless.