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While the numbers are beginning to show more and more often that the labor market is strengthening, there is the occasional hiccup. Since hitting a peak at the height of the Great Recession — when weekly jobless claims reached 667,000 on March 28, 2009 — the number of Americans filing for their first week of unemployment benefits have fallen sharply, even though the downward progression has been uneven at times.
Last week, there was one of those bumps. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits edged upward ever so slightly, climbing by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 336,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a much greater jump, with their estimates set at 342,000 initial claims.
The numbers also represented a slight disappointment after the previous week’s jobs report showed that initial jobless claims fell for the third consecutive week. But within the data, there is an important sign pointing to the ongoing healing of the labor market; the four-week moving average for new claims — a less-volatile measures of labor market trends — fell 7,500 to 339,750, the lowest level since February 2008…
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