Jobless claims continue downward trend

Are we finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel?

Last month the unemployment rate dipped to 8.6%, and now we continue to see better numbers as it relates to weekly jobless claims.

The number of U.S. workers filing new applications for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in three-and-a-half years last week, the latest indication that a weak labor market is improving.

Initial jobless claims fell by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000 in the week ended Dec. 10, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast claims would climb by 9,000 to 390,000.

“This is unexpectedly great news,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “If claims can remain at this level, payroll growth will strengthen markedly within a month or so.”

For the week ended Dec. 3, claims were revised up slightly to 385,000 from an originally reported 381,000. Still, new claims have fallen by 19,000 two weeks in a row.

The four-week moving average of new jobless claims, closely watched by economists because it smooths out volatile weekly data, dropped last week by 6,500 to 387,750. That is the lowest level since July 2008.

The four-week average has remained below 400,000 for five consecutive weeks, one sign the economy is adding more jobs than it is shedding.

If you’ve been looking for a job but have become discouraged, now is the time to get back out there and redouble your efforts. The economy has some momentum, and economic optimism is returning. Right now Europe seems like the most important headwind for economic growth, but conditions here at home are getting better. Car sales are improving and that is one of the factors driving economic activity.


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