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Jobless Claims Fall To Best Levels Since 2008

Initial jobless claims today came in much better than expected. The jobless claims for the week ending November 20, 2010 was 407K vs. 435K expected. This number marks a 34K decrease from the prior week’s revision of 441K. Continuing claims also came in better than expected: 4.182M vs. 4.275M expected. This figure was 142K less than the prior week’s revision of 4.324M.

The 407K number is the lowest level since July 2008. It appears that the noticeable drop was a result of fewer layoffs primarily in the construction industry. California saw the largest decline w/w, down 5,044, and the comments supplied by the state attributed the drop to a shorter workweek and fewer layoffs in the service industry. Two other states that saw a decline of more than 1,000, TX and NJ, also commented that a shorter workweek brought down the number of claims. The seasonally adjusted number should account for the shortened week, however.

Below are charts of the initial jobless claims and continuing claims since January 2005 plotted against the S&P cash index.

There aren’t many in depth analyses on jobless claims data out there, and rightfully so as I don’t believe they should be read into so much. First of all, the weekly claims data are volatile and choppy, as you can tell from the chart above. Also, claims tend to be a lagging indicator so they do not have much predictive value. From a larger perspective though, we are seeing that the trend has been down over the past few weeks. So again, I don’

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