Initial Unemployment Claims Fall Slightly

Unemployment still high. Food line at the Yonge Street Mission, 381 Yonge Street, Toronto, Canada, 1930s. Wikimedia Commons.The number of initial unemployment claims improved slightly last week, but the job market remains weak.

It's one more indicator of a weak economic recovery. The stock market may be at its highest point since fall 2008 -- go figure -- but the number of initial unemployment claims is still too high to lend much support to the value of your home or help those at risk of losing their houses to foreclosure.

Initial unemployment claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 442,000 for the week ending March 20. That's a decrease of 12,000 from the week before, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The weekly count of new unemployed people has been falling for four weeks, after wavering in the high-400,000 range since the beginning of the year.

The count of initial claims can jump wildly from week to week. But the four-week moving average, which evens out some of the volatility in the number of initial claims, also fell to 453,750, down from 464,750 the week before.

Economists say that about 450,000 initial claims represents a stable job market, which is neither getting worse or better. To lower unemployment, create more jobs than are lost to layoffs, and support a recovery in the housing market, the weekly number will need to fall significantly less than 450,000.

Also, a big part of this week's drop may represent tweaks that the Department of Labor made in their method to adjust the numbers to account for the season.
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