5 Charts to Explain Labor Market Health

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Source: Bytemarks / Flickr

Source: Bytemarks / Flickr

Last week, initial applications for unemployment benefits ticked higher; it was not a large increase, but nevertheless is was reminder that while the labor market is indeed resilient, it is no where near full, pre-recession health. Ahead of Friday’s March Employment Situation Report from the Department of Labor, which is expected to show the strongest hiring numbers since last November, a string of economic reports have pointed to a jobs recovery that is once again gaining momentum, but still far from strong.

“The numbers of people who have been trying to find work for more than six months or more than a year are much higher today than they ever were since records began decades ago,” Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said at a March 31 conference in Chicago. “While there has been steady progress, there is also no doubt that the economy and the job market are not back to normal health.”

Jobless claims

Jobless Claims

Data released by the Department of Labor on Thursday revealed that new jobless claims rose to a seasonally adjusted 326,000 in the week ended March 29 — a 16,000-application jump from last week’s 310,000 new claims. While this pace of new jobless claims missed analysts’ expectations for 319,000 new applications and entirely erased the previous week’s decrease, jobless claims are still trending in line with pre-recession levels; before the recession began in December 2007, an average number of 320,000 initial claims were filed each week due to the normal churn in the job market. Plus, economists say any claims figure below 350,000 indicate moderate job creation.

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