Jobless claims swing back to a decline
Initial jobless claims continue to swing like a pendulum, falling 9% last week after rising by double digits the prior week, which followed a substantial drop the week before that. The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of actual initial claims for the week ended Jan. 29 decreased by 42,000 to 415,000, which was a little lower than most analysts' estimates. Initial claims for the prior week were 457,000, which was revised upward a few thousand by the Labor Department. Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected jobless claims to come in at 425,000 with estimates ranging from 354,000 to 434,000. A Briefing.com survey projected new claims of 410,000 for last week. Economists polled by MarketWatch projected claims to come in at 418,000. For most of the first few weeks of 2011, initial claims have been flirting with coming in below 400,000, which is the level most economists believe indicates the economy is expanding and jobs growth is strengthening. The four-week moving average, which is considered a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, increased by 1,000 to 430,500 from an upwardly revised average of 429,500. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate slid to 3.1% for the week ended Jan. 22 from 3.2% the prior week, according to the Labor Department. The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits decrease a bit to nearly 9.3 million for the week ended Jan. 15. Write to Jason Philyaw.