By New Deal Democrat
This morning, the Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims fell to 341,000. The four-week moving average rose slightly to 352,500. Any given weekly report can be noise, and must be taken with several grains of salt. This one, however, is particularly encouraging. Up until four months ago, there had not been any post-recession report below 350,000. But in the last 10 weeks, four of the reports have come in under 350,000, with a new post-recession low of 330,000. When we got the very good reports in January, there were warnings that they were post-Christmas distortions. The same cannot be said of this week's number.
So this week's number is particularly encouraging, even though it is only one week's data. That's because it appears to confirm that we have moved into a new range of about 330,000 on the low side and 375,000 on the high side (red line in the graph below), vs. last year's pre-Sandy range of 350,000 to 400,000 (blue line):
This isn't quite what we would get in a full expansion, which would be roughly in the 290,000 to 335,000 range, but it's getting pretty close. Now if Washington can pretty please not screw it all up.