Last Friday, I posted a blog here entitled “Unemployment filings finally fall below critical 400K weekly mark.” It basically stated that we’d finally had a week wherein overall new jobless filings for unemployment dipped below 400,000 for the week that ended on December 3. Economists believe strongly that only when that number dips (and stays) below the 400K threshold can unemployment really improve here in the USA. And the number for that week was a relatively modest 381,000, down 23,000 from the preceding week.
This week, to my surprise and delight, the filings turned out even better. At 366,000 they’re down an additional 19,000 from the preceding week, and definitely trending in the right direction. This not only beat economists’ forecasts, it’s also the lowest number of filings since May 2008 according to US Labor Department figures released yesterday in our nation’s capital (that’s five months after the last recession officially began, so we still have a ways to go to get back to the previous “normal”).
Manufacturing is also up, after a slight pause for the month of November. Economists are starting to talk about the US economy “gathering momentum” (see this San Francisco Chronicle story “Unemployment claims filings hit 3-year low” for more info and attribution of the just-quoted phrase).
Maybe it’s just the holidays lifting everybody’s spirits and consumer confidence. But hey: could this really be a glimmer of hope for genuine improvement? Only time will tell!