Thursday, August 21, 2003

It's funny how the business media make such a big deal about the supposedly magic number of 400,000 when speaking of new jobless claims in the US.
The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits fell last week, a government report said on Thursday, with the power blackout having a ``minimal effect'' on the data.

Initial claims fell to 386,000 in the week ended Aug. 16, down 17,000 from an upwardly revised 403,000 in the prior week and below analysts' expectations for 395,000 claims. . . .

The running four-week average, which is viewed as a better gauge of the labor market because it smoothes volatility, was below the key 400,000 mark for the third week in a row.

The moving average dropped 1,250 claims for the four-week period ending Saturday to 394,250, pointing to a strengthening job market.
Hmm, 400,000 is bad but 394,000 is a sign of growing strength??

You may recall that the "magic number" lurked under 400,000 for most of the early winter of 2002-03, and the summer of 2002, and late winter 2002, and summer 2001. Since the magic threshhold was first breached under Bush in April 2001, the lowest it's been was 368,000 new claimants the week ending January 11, 2003. Wake me up when we get to this figure again.

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