Jobless Claim Numbers: A Mixed Bag

Jobless claims climbed by 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 377,000 in the week ended Jan. 21.

Jobless claims number are released every Thursday by the The U.S. government. Analysts were expecting the number to rise to  rise to 373,000 from last week’s number of 352,000 two weeks ago. The numbers just reported are slightly above what economists had forecast.

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However claims from two weeks ago were revised up by 4,000 to 356,000. The average of four-week claims fell slightly, down 2,500 to 377,500. The four week number is considered a more smooth indicator of jobless claims.

This week’s numbers’ are particularly important for economic forecasters. One reason is that the numbers below 400,000 indicate signs of job creation. The numbers remained stubbornly high above the 400,000 mark for months before recently dipping below it.

Additionally, the Government reported a robust 200,00 jobs created last month. This was one of the best figures in a long time. The Government will be releasing the next employment numbers on Friday, February 3rd; so this job reports is a bellwether for what the outcome will be. All eyes will be on that report to see whether the one week, or four week number was a better metric.

The market is indicating that it likes the news, as stock futures have risen since the data has been released. Durable good numbers also released simultaneously with the job numbers showed an increase of 3%, a robust number.

However, it must be noted that nowadays with the crisis in Europe even not such bad news is considered by many investors to be a good sign.