New jobless claims unexpectedly rise
New jobless claims filed last week came in at 480,000, a jump of 7,000 from the week before and well above expectations.
Forecasters expected 465,000 new jobless claims to be filed last week.
The four-week moving average dropped 5,250 to 467,500. This number represents the one-month trend on new jobless claims. It is the lowest moving average since September 2008.
Continuing claims came in at 5.18 million, essentially unchanged from the week before.
Today's new jobless claims number is reflective of this recovery, inasmuch as we understand it so far. The U.S. overall unemployment rate stands at 10 percent, down from 10.2 percent in October. You shouldn't be surprised if the unemployment number ticks back up to 10.1 or 10.2 percent when it is next reported in early January: This is how this recovery is going to go. We know from every past recession that unemployment has continued to rise and stay high for months and quarters after the recession has ended. This recession has been unlike any since the Great Depression, so we should expect the same, if not more.
"The economy continues to send mixed messages," Mizuho USA economist Steven Ricchiuto wrote in a research note this afternoon. "The latest weekly claims and continuing claims data suggests that the economy is not expanding quickly enough to absorb the 7 million workers that have been let go during the recession in a reasonable time period. Moreover, the improvement in the labor market has already started to falter as claims have risen in each of the past two weeks at the margin."
If there's any good news in the fact that 480,000 new jobless claims are still being filed each week, it's this: The numbers each week are in the mid- to upper-400,000s, as opposed to earlier this year, when the number was in the 700,000s. Economists generally agree that a recovery that includes new job creation can't occur until the weekly jobless claims number stays in the low to mid-400,000s.
-- Frank Ahrens
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December 17, 2009; 8:42 AM ET
Categories: The Ticker | Tags: jobless claims
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