After last week's discouraging increase, the news on initial unemployment claims this morning was more heartening.
The number of people who applied for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits declined by 9,000 to 346,000 in the week that ended June 22, pointing to a slightly slower pace of layoffs, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected these initial jobless claims to decrease to a seasonally adjusted 345,000 from an original estimate of 354,000 for the week that ended June 15.
To reiterate the point I make every Thursday morning, it's worth remembering that week-to-week results can vary widely, and it's best not to read too much significance into any one report.
In terms of metrics, when jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it's considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape, and when the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are being created rather quickly. We've been below the 370,000 threshold 25 of the last 28 weeks, and below 350,000 in 8 of the last 12 weeks.
Above you'll find the chart showing weekly, initial unemployment claims going back to the beginning of 2007. (Remember, unlike the monthly jobs chart, a lower number is good news.) For context, I've added an arrow to show the point at which President Obama's Recovery Act began spending money.