According to the US Department of Labor (DoL), the jobless claims for the week ending March 8 were 420,000, down 15,000 from the revised 435,000 figure the week before. The four-week moving average, considered a better gauge of labor conditions because it smoothes out weekly fluctuations, jumped to 419,750 from a revised 410,000, the DoL said. Claims for the March 1 week were up by 12,000 (See Jobless Claims Rise by 12,000 in Latest Week).
The jobless claims drop for the March 8 period was in line with average predictions made by economists in Reuters’ regular poll. They forecast a drop to 419,000 from the 430,000 claims originally reported for the March 1 week.
Thursday’s latest report followed last week’s shockingly grim unemployment rate picture that showed the economy had shed a whopping 308,000 non-farm jobs during February in the sharpest payroll plunge since November 21. The February unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 5.7% in January to 5.8% in February (See Grim February Employment Picture Shows 308,000 Job Losses ).
While the latest DoL jobless claims data is a touch of good news amid a sea of disturbing economic indicators, the March 8 totals were still significantly over the 400,000 claims mark, which economists agree represents a largely moribund job-production machine.