Pace of firings remain subdued but hiring still a question

Initial Jobless Claims totaled 444k, 7k above expectations and up from a revised 433k last week. Continuing Claims, delayed by 1 week, fell by 211k and was 154k below estimates. Those collecting claims past 26 weeks, delayed by 2 weeks, fell by 135k but there is not enough information in today’s data to say whether it is due to the finding of a new job or the exhaustion of benefits. The last measurement of the exhaustion rate (the % of people who started collecting benefits and have used them up before finding a job) was at the end of Nov and it reached 54%, an all time high. Unemployment benefits can last up to 99 weeks in some states. Either way, the pace of firings still is a big improvement as the 4 week average of initial claims is down to 441k, the lowest since Aug ’08 but gains in employment still remain subdued.

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