Initial Claims continue downward trend but…

Initial Claims totaled 502k, 8k less than expected and its the lowest level since the 1st week of Jan when it was 488k (Oct ’08 was time before that where claims were below 500k) and down from 514k last week which was revised up by 2k. Continuing Claims fell 139k and were 69k below forecasts but the full picture of the data is not complete unless we look at extended benefits that begin after 26 weeks. Those receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation rose by 22k but those getting Extended Benefits past that fell by 28k. It’s unclear whether that fall off is due to new jobs being found or because benefits were exhausted. With the extension of unemployment benefits now reaching 99 weeks, thus almost 2 years, as monthly job losses continue, we have to assume its due more to the exhaustion of benefits. Net-net, the trend continues of a moderation in the pace of firings with the level of hiring’s being more uncertain.

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