Unemployment Claims Continue Decline; See 10-Year Trends

May 6, 2010 by Emsi Burning Glass

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The latest unemployment insurance claims report was released this morning from the Labor Department, and it brought fairly encouraging news: claims for jobless benefits continue to drop, if ever so slightly.

From the Associated Press:

The Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims for unemployment insurance fell by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 444,000. That’s above economists’ forecasts of 440,000, according to Thomson Reuters.

Layoffs have dropped back to pre-recession levels and employers have slowly resumed hiring as the economy recovers from the worst recession since the 1930s.

With the latest claims data, we thought it would be a good time to look at 2000-2010 trends in unemployment claims. Click on the graph below to make it interactive (the orange circles show where we were at in previous years at this time).

This year, the data has shown an overall decline for both the seasonally-adjusted and non-adjusted continued claims. Today’s release shows that seasonally adjusted claims continued that trend. Non-adjusted continued claims show the same trend, but that data (in context) should give us some pause.

Right now, the story is not that the job market is slowly recovering or slowly healing — it’s slowly doing exactly what it should be doing normally, except things aren’t normal. The good news is the same as the bad news. Non-adjusted continued claims seem to be doing what they’ve done over the past decade at this time of the year; they have declined from their January peak by about a million claims.

So far, nothing in this data shows any return to the old “normal” unemployment claims rate.  At best, we are looking the new “normal.”