Rail traffic and jobless claims continued to improve in the latest week pointing to positive signs for the economy. These are two of the better macro indicators we see with some regularity so while this obviously doesn’t mean that everything is improving, it certainly doesn’t look to be consistent with broad economic deterioration. In fact, the strength in the last few employment reports appears totally consistent with the improvement seen in jobless claims in particular.
The latest in rail traffic showed continued double digit growth and brought the 12 week moving average in traffic to 7.5% (via AAR):
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 5, 2014 with 270,731 total carloads, up 9.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 227,097 units, up 10.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 497,828 carloads and intermodal units, up 9.9 percent compared with the same week last year.
Meanwhile, the four week average in jobless claims dipped to a new recovery low of 2.57 million:
We’re not back to full strength and certainly not operating at full capacity, but given the depth of the recession we’ve come out of the state of the economy deserves a bit more praise than it's getting.