Friday, February 11, 2011

New U.S. Claims For Unemployment Benefits Dropped To 2-1/2 Year Low

New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a 2-1/2 year low last week, offering assurance that the labor market was strengthening despite January's poor jobs numbers.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 383,000, the lowest since early July 2008, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 410,000. The prior week's figure was revised up to 419,000, from the previously reported 415,000.
According to Reuters, the rolling four-week average is now at 415,500, a drop of 16,000. Overall, 9.4 million Americans are receiving assistance from unemployment programs.

All told, the economy added roughly 1.3 million private-sector jobs in 2010. For comparison purposes, note that the economy lost nearly 4.7 million private-sector jobs in 2009, and lost 3.8 million in 2008.

With that in mind, here is a chart, showing monthly job losses/gains in the private sector since the start of Bush's Great Recession through January 2011. The image makes a distinction -- red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration. (Chart from Washington Monthly)

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Rachel Maddow: The Bikini Graph on Job Gains April 2010

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