Jobless Claims Continue To Fall! Now At 364,000, A 3 1/2 Year Low

The headline says it all, people: new claims for unemployment insurance by the recently laid off fell last week to 364,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week and the lowest level since April 2008.

“The employment situation continues to show strong signs of a recovery and goes against the grain of what people felt four months ago,” economist Andrew Wilkinson told Reuters.

Continuing claims, which are reported a few weeks behind, also fell: for the week ended Dec. 3, the most recent week the data are available, the number of people receiving regular state unemployment checks dropped 156,000 to 3.5 million, and those receiving emergency extended benefits dropped 107,000 to 2.9 million.

But while all the signs are good, the recovery may not last, the New York Times reports. Much of these good numbers are caused by temporary factors, like wholesalers restocking inventory before year’s end, and without a payroll tax cut, the Times says, the recovery is likely to falter.

“Most worrying is the prospect that Congress will drop aid for the long-term jobless and allow payroll taxes to rise to 6.2 percent from the current level of 4.2 percent, amounting to a $1,000 tax increase on the average wage earner,” the Times says. “Macroeconomic Advisers, a prominent forecaster, estimates that the expiration of the two provisions could cost the economy 400,000 jobs and cut growth by half a percentage point next year.”

Enjoy it while you can, y’all.