Unemployment claims fall (a little)

@CNNMoney October 27, 2011: 10:11 AM ET
initial-claims.top.jpg

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Fewer Americans filed for unemployment claims last week, but the slight drop wasn't enough to signal improvement in the job market.

About 402,000 people filed for their first week of unemployment claims in the week ended Oct. 22, the Labor Department said Thursday. And that's just the newcomers to the unemployment rolls.

Another 3.6 million people filed for their second week or more of benefits in the week ending Oct. 15, the most recent data available.

Both those numbers have come down recently, but the improvements are so slight, they're not all that encouraging.

"It's consistent with this crawl, then stagger, then crawl recovery we've been going through," said Paul Ballew, chief economist at Nationwide. "We'll take the last two months as comforting that we're not seeing further erosion in unemployment claims, but it's still not robust either."

Initial claims were barely improved from the week before, when 404,000 filed for new unemployment benefits. Economists often look to see weekly initial claims fall below 400,000 to signal a lower unemployment rate, but new claims have been stuck at around or above that level since April.

Meanwhile, continuing claims have bounced around in the last few months, sometimes falling one week, then heading higher again the next.

Check the unemployment rate in your state

Even the four-week moving averages, which economists use to smooth out volatility, have also bounced around. Given those trends, many are predicting the unemployment rate remained at 9.1% in October for the fourth straight month in a row.

The unemployment claims report comes on the same day as the government's first assessment on third-quarter economic growth. According to that report, gross domestic product -- the broadest measure of economic activity -- picked up 2.5% in the three months ending in September. That's a significant improvement over sluggish 1.3% growth in the second quarter and 0.4% growth in the first.

Still though, it has not translated into consistent job gains.

"This sluggish growth is the root cause of the stubbornly high unemployment rate we've seen over that time," Josh Bivens, economist at the Economic Policy Institute said in a research note.  To top of page

Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.95%3.98%
15 yr fixed3.08%3.04%
5/1 ARM3.43%3.30%
30 yr refi4.04%4.05%
15 yr refi3.17%3.11%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Economic Calendar
Latest ReportNext Update
Home pricesAug 28
Consumer confidenceAug 28
GDPAug 29
Manufacturing (ISM)Sept 4
JobsSept 7
Inflation (CPI)Sept 14
Retail sales Sept 14
CNNMoney Sponsors

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.