Thursday, February 4, 2010

Initial Jobless Claims: 480,000; Productivity gains in 4Q; Strong January same store sales

- by New Deal democrat

The BLS reported that seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims rose 8,000 last week to 480,000. The 4 week moving average rose 11,750 to 468,750.

Unadjusted, initial claims rose 28,234 to 530,405, down from 682,176 in 2009.

It is now clear that the ~430,000 readings of late December reflected an over-generous seasonal adjustment. Today's readings, as last week's, are totally consistent with the underlying declining trend since last March. If we go over 500,000 in the next few weeks, or fail to decline further, that could spell trouble, but not now.

Productivity for 4Q 2009 was up 6.2%, continuing the strong trend of employers making more with fewer employees. Probably not coincidentally, January same store sales were reported as strongly positive earlier this morning. Federated's executive, on CNBC, said it wasn't due to increased consumer demand, but due to better "just-in-time" inventory management, meaning stores did not have to resort to reduced sale prices in order to move merchandise.