New jobless claims drop by 4,000 but remain stubbornly high
New jobless claims filed last week dropped only 4,000 to 444,000, as unemployment remains stubbornly high.
Forecasters had been expecting a greater drop in new jobless claims. The official U.S. unemployment rate is 9.9 percent, up from 9.7 percent in March, though nearly 300,000 new jobs were added to the economy last month.
The four-week moving average of new jobless claims, which smooths out volatility in the week-to-week numbers, dropped 9,000 to 450,500.
The number of continuing claims -- the long-term unemployed -- actually rose slightly last week to 4.63 million, from 4.62 million.
The fact that the new jobless claims number remains unmovable is somewhat puzzling, given the slight but steady increase recently in payrolls.
Further, the new weekly jobless claims number seems stuck at an important hump: Economists say that for meaningful job growth to begin in this economy, the weekly jobless claims numbers needs to get down into the low 400,000s or, better, upper 300,000s and stay there.
This is going to be a real issue as the November mid-term elections approach. Already, we've seen a backlash against incumbents in the primaries. If unemployment stays stuck near 10 percent by November, it could bode poorly for all incumbents but specifically Democrats, who will have to answer the charge from Republican challengers that unemployment has done little but rise over the past year.
May 13, 2010; 8:54 AM ET
Categories: Unemployment | Tags: Business, Claims, Financial Services, Insurance, Jobless claims, Moving average, Unemployment, United States
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