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US Jobless Claims Fall

In an indication of an improving economy, the number of first-time unemployment benefits claims fell last week by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 290,000, according to the Labor Department.  These claims have been falling since the end of the 2008 recession and hit a 14 year low in October 2014.  Since then, these figures have fluctuated due to seasonal factors but indicate that the American economy is on net creating jobs.  In February, 295,000 jobs were created, and the unemployment rate hit 5.5%, the lowest level since May 2008.

However, other factors indicate that the economy has not yet fully recovered from the 2008 recession- wages have largely stagnated, many Americans are employed only part time, and a historically high number of working age people have left the labor market.


  1. Stephen Moore Stephen Moore

    While the unemployment rate is near the natural rate of unemployment as determined by the Fed, I believe inflation has been the greatest concern of the Fed. In their recent meeting, the Fed seemed to express more concern about getting back up to target inflation levels, and wanted unemployment to fall at the rate it has been. I’m sure it will not be long after the inflation problem is figured that the Fed will raise interest rates.

  2. klinedinstc15 klinedinstc15

    Regarding Stephen’s comment about inflation — I was listening to a Bloomberg podcast earlier today with the chief investment strategist at JPM’s Private Bank. She was explaining that in talks with all her clients, she always asks them if they feel like they are experiencing inflation that is below 2% on consumer baskets, and that almost unanimously, they have been saying no, that they feel as though they are experiencing inflation above 2%. I found this to be an interesting anecdote, given the Fed’s concern over the low levels of inflation.

    Here is the link to the podcast: — they actually bring up W&L about 3 minutes in!

  3. winn winn

    I wonder about the relationship between falling unemployment rates and the number of discouraged workers: is the falling unemployment rate due to the stagnant wages and reliance on part-time jobs that the article cites? Further, I’ve recently read about a series of retail employers that increased their base wages — are these types of companies in the minority? Or are these types of stories just given more press due to their more optimistic nature?

  4. We have lots of evidence on actual inflation rates, independent of the official CPI metrics. No reason to think what we’re actually experiencing is anywhere near 2%. And some economists want to build models using rational expectations, not because it is a way to keep models tractable, but because they are true believers.

    But weekly data are volatile, we really want to look at longer-run trends and at (say) total employment levels. Until wages start rising commensurate with growth, we’re not at low unemployment!!

  5. maguirem15 maguirem15

    Another thing to take into consideration is who is being employed. In an article in the New York Times notes that yes the job rates are increasing, but older workers are typically left behind. If the older generation, if discouraged, could go into early retirement even if they do not necessarily want to/have the savings to.

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