Jobless Claims Are Past 400,000 Again

Jobless claims for last week totaled 409,000, an increase of 18,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 391,000, the labor department reported today.

The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure of jobless claims, fell to 410,750, the lowest level in two years.

In the last week of 2009, jobless claims totaled 456,000, so there’s reason to hope, even if claims are moving very very slowly.

Economists had cheered the news that last week’s claims figures had dropped below 400,000, a milestone that would mean the job market is finally returning to growth. However, the Christmas holiday may have been partly to blame for the lack of claims over the Dec. 20-24 week.

The new year break (many private and government employees had Dec. 31 off) may have distorted last week’s claim numbers as well, so wait til next week to see what unemployment truly looks like.