Jobless Claims Drop 7.3%

This morning, the U.S. Department of Labor released weekly unemployment insurance data showing 341,000 initial claims filed in the week ending Feb. 9,  a drop of 27,000 from the 368,000 figure the week before.That's a 7.3% week-to-week decline.

The year-ago period saw unemployment insurance claims of 361,000. So that's a 5.5% year-over-year drop in the number.

However, in examining these numbers, economists frequently look at four-week moving averages to get a better idea for the overall trend, especially since weekly numbers are often revised. The four-week moving average for the week ended Feb. 9 actually increased about 0.4%, with 352,500 per week in that period filing initial claims, more than the 351,000 from the previous week.

In either case, the scene has improved from what it looked like a year ago, when the four-week moving average stood at 371,250. The Department of Labor also released data showing a more holistic view of the labor market, with figures showing the total number of people claiming unemployment insurance benefits in all programs. For the week ended Jan. 26, this figure stood at just over 5.9 million (up 5.9% from the previous week); a year ago it was nearly 7.7 million. 

For the week ended Feb. 2 (most recent available data), four states registered initial-claim decreases of more than 1,000: North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and Michigan. Seven states reported increases of more than 1,000: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Oregon, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

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