Initial Jobless Claims were about in line with expectations at 439k vs the estimate of 440k. Last week though was revised up by 3k to 445k. The 4 week average fell to 447k from 454k and is now at the lowest level since Sept ’08 BUT again, those receiving extended benefits remain very elevated. Continuing Claims, up to 26 weeks, fell by 6k but were 44k above expectations and extended benefits past 26 weeks rose by 264k and the total amount still remains elevated. The best conclusion from the data remains the same and that is businesses have dramatically tempered the rate of firing but still seem reluctant to aggressively add to their payrolls as that process will seem more gradual in nature assuming the economy can sustain its healing and recovery in the face of reduced government stimulus and the growing likelihood of higher market interest rates.
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