This morning's initial jobless claims report is the 3rd of 4 reports on leading economic indicators this week. The first two, ISM manufacturing and manufacturers' nondurable goods orders, were strongly positive.
Most commentators think the continuing declines in the 4 week moving average of new jobless claims means the recession is close to ending. Some pessimists insist that July's numbers were an aberration and that economic Armageddon will resume, starting with today's number.
Since I will be unavoidably unavailable when this figure is reported, here is a guidebook for what the initial jobless report means:
Today's Initial jobless claims number was:
Very good. The 4 week moving average is continuing to fall. It is getting close to the point where in the past net jobs have increased in the economy, and would be consistent with the recession being virtually over.
Here is the actual report:
In the week ending Aug. 1, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 550,000, a decrease of 38,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 588,000. The 4-week moving average was 555,250, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week's revised average of 560,000.
Better yet -- here is the unadjusted number:
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 463,062 in the week ending Aug. 1, a decrease of 48,296 from the previous week. There were 382,792 initial claims in the comparable week in 2008.
That means in the last three weeks we've seen an unadjusted drop of 200,000.