Jobless Claims Fall Last Week, but Still High
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, government data showed on Thursday, but remained too high to signal any major improvement in the labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 386,000, the Labor Department said. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 392,000 from the previously reported 387,000.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims easing to 385,000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, slipped 750 to 386,750.
The labor market has lost a step in recent months as uncertainty spawned by the debt crisis in Europe and an unclear fiscal policy path at home has made businesses reluctant to hire. However, there are no signs in the claims data that companies are responding to that uncertainty by laying off workers.
Jobless claims have barely moved since April and the lack of improvement suggests a fundamental weakness in the labor market.
All this proves is that things are not getting better. We need a new barometer for the state of the economy. New unemployment claims only tell a small part of the story. What about all of the people that are still underemployed or completely unemployed that are either not eligible for benefits (self-employed) or have exhausted their benefits?