Average jobless claims lower despite headline number
Seasonally-adjusted jobless claims dipped 6,000 to 462,000 for the week ending 6 Mar 2010. This is significantly lower than the revised 498,000 number we saw two weeks prior. Nevertheless, 4-week average jobless claims are still over 475,000. This number is actually higher than the previous week’s 470,500 average.
At least we are seeing some incipient signs that hiring is likely to pick up. The JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) released yesterday showed a nice pickup in open position and a fall in total layoffs. As the data are not as real-time as the jobless claims data, things might be a bit better still for data released about February and March.
Bottom Line: The labor market remains weak. I had anticipated growth in non-farm payrolls by the end of this quarter. However, given the still elevated claims numbers, we may not get there.