Claims fall from prior week, but fail to meet expectations
Jobless claims have been hovering around the 400,000 mark now since the end of December. After a surprising spike in the prior week, the decline to 403,000 for the week ended April 16 was a step in the right direction, but was still a weaker result than anticipated.
Claims for the week ended April 16 were also still above the 4-week average, suggesting that after an extended period of decline, labor markets may be pausing at least temporarily. It’s too early to conclude that this anything greater than a brief respite, as the economy still appears to be in a growth mode.
From a bigger picture perspective, the employment landscape has markedly improved since the twenty year peak in the weekly claims reached two years ago. The recent slip notwithstanding, the employment market still appears to be in the midst of an extended period of gradual improvement that is expected to continue in the months ahead.
Improvements in the labor market have also had a positive impact on consumer confidence in recent quarters. There has been gradual improvement in the consumers’ assessment of the ease of finding a job. Clearly, the job market is far from tight and potential workers are still struggling to various degrees as some regions and industries are weaker than others. Nonetheless, the trend is positive. While confidence does not translate directly to consumption, the slow shift in consumer mood is a positive note.
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