Jobless Claims Trickle Down, For Real This Time

Okay, last week was a fakeout. After saying that jobless claims had hit 382,000 for the week of March 14-18, the Labor Department is now saying that the number of new claims by unemployed people fell 6,000 last week to 388,000.

How can that happen? Well, the first numbers reported are always “preliminary” and are refined as time goes on. So the Labor Department made a bad estimate.

The four-week moving average also rose thanks to the revisions: now an average of 394,250 people were filing unemployment claims in each of the past four weeks. This number is good but nowhere near as good as what we thought it was last week: 385,250, which would have been the lowest level in three years.

Yet analysts expect the government’s employment report tomorrow to show that the economy added 200,000 private-sector jobs, so this fakeout might be over.