Last time we checked, the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%, the lowest jobless rate since December of 2008. And now, first time jobless claims are also falling.
First-time jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 332,000 in the week ended March 9, the fewest since mid January, according to data today from the Labor Department in Washington. The median forecast of 49 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 350,000. The four-week average declined to a five- year low.
Managers are maintaining staffing levels as consumers sustain spending even after a two percentage-point increase in the payroll tax at the start of the year reduced paychecks. Nonetheless, there remains a risk that the recent pickup in employment will be cut short as federal budget cutbacks prompt companies and government agencies to trim payrolls.
“The rate of job destruction is pretty low,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, Florida, who projected the number of claims would drop to 338,000. “The labor market is in continued-recovery mode, though there is still a lot of ground to make up.”
The economy is improving, in spite of all the road blocks Washington politicians are putting up.