Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jobless milestone

The economic recovery just passed a significant threshold. Bloomberg reports
Claims for jobless benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in two years, showing the U.S. labor market is taking a turn for the better as the economy accelerates into 2011.

Applications for unemployment assistance decreased by 34,000 to 388,000 in the week ended Dec. 25, breaking the 400,000 level for the first time since July 2008, according to Labor Department figures today in Washington.
The weekly jobless figure is notoriously volatile; the week leading up to Christmas is far from typical, and the figure could subsequently be revised upward.

Nevertheless, a number below 400,000 is significant because it is generally seen as indicating an expanding labor market. The figure is also consistent with a general downward trend over the last few months.

The UI claims figures were also accompanied by other positive news. Bloomberg is also reporting
Businesses in the U.S. expanded in December at the fastest pace in two decades, adding to evidence the world’s largest economy is accelerating heading into 2011.

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. said today its business barometer rose to 68.6 this month, exceeding the most optimistic forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and the highest level since July 1988. Figures greater than 50 signal expansion.
While these are positive developments for most of us, the good news isn't shared by all, especially the 27 percent of "patriotic" Americans (61 percent of Republicans) who hope President Obama's policies will fail.