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Initial jobless claims missed expectations for the fourth week, as claims rose by 37,000 to 2.98 million.

Initial claims have now been flat for 8 months, suggesting the conventional wisdom that the economy is on the brink of a self-sustaining recovery is poorly informed and unsupported.

Notably, the Department of Labor did not make mention of weather being an issue.

Jobless claims are steady and point to what’s shaping up to be a weak trend for the February employment report.

The more revealing four-week average, at 2.96 million, is right in line with the month-ago trend, which again points to little change in the jobs market. The unemployment rate for insured workers is at 2.3 percent, where it's been for most of the year.

Initial claims for the February 15 week, which is also the sample week for the monthly employment report, edged 3,000 lower to 336,000, still above the nine-month average.

Jobs and unemployment are now the number one concern for Americans surveyed, and with good reason.

According to Gallup, nearly one in four Americans mention jobs and unemployment as the most important problem facing the country, up from 16% in January.

The Econoday consensus was calling for 335,000. The 4-week average rose slightly to a 338,500 level that, in a slight negative, is 6,250 higher than the January 18 week which was the sample week for the January employment report.

Continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week lag, rose 37,000 to 2.981 million.

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