Initial jobless claims were 456,000 for the week of April 17, a result that was generally in line with expectations and a sharp reduction from last week’s surprise increase.
The 4-week average came in at 460,250, which is a slight increase over last week’s average of 457,750.
Initial jobless claims have been trending downward since the high of 643,000 in April 2009. Clearly, the employment market continues to trend in the right direction, but it has been – and will likely continue to be – a frustratingly slow process.
Employers have shown a reluctance to add to their payrolls, a trend that has been slow to reverse. We are still seeing an abnormally high unemployment rate, which has been stuck at 9.7% for three consecutive months.
Economists and policymakers at the Fed and Treasury all seem to agree that the replacement of the 8.5 million jobs lost since the start of the recession will take years.
However, there have been some positive indications of job creation, as evidenced by the recent 162,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls. This represents the highest increase in three years and signals that the economy is on the right track.
We continue to anticipate that as the recovery continues, job creation should also pick up as well in the quarters ahead. Nonetheless, the timing and degree of meaningful improvement in the trajectory of job creation remains a question.