Last week, initial claims for unemployment insurance in the U.S. fell to a seasonally adjusted figure of 314,000, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 334,000, the U.S. Labor Department reported on June 23. The figure for the week ending June 18 was 16,000 claims below the 330,000 that economists generally expected.
The department's four-week moving average for initial claims also fell last week, dropping by 2,500 claims to 333,000. The four-week average smooths out week-to-week changes in unemployment claims, and the latest number suggests a slightly improving labor market but one with no real burst of job growth.
To Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business in College Park, the latest jobless claim numbers overall indicate "a steady, neither improving nor deteriorating job market." Adds Morici, "A steady job market is decent news given the announced layoffs at GM, Ford and other companies. However, these figures indicate that manufacturing employment continues to languish, and improvements in the wages, adjusted for inflation, offered ordinary new hires are likely to continue falling."