The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment aid edged up last week for a third straight week, but the underlying trend continued to point to solid momentum in the labor market.
Still, the rise in jobless claims and other data on Thursday showing weak new home sales in March and factory activity this month could heighten concerns about the economy’s ability to rebound strongly after stumbling at the start of the year.
Growth braked sharply as the economy was slammed by harsh winter weather, weak global demand and a now-settled labor dispute at West Coast ports. Activity also was constrained by a strong dollar as well as lower energy prices, which cut into domestic oil production.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 295,000 for the week ended April 18, the Labor Department said. Despite the increase, claims remained for a seventh consecutive week below the 300,000 threshold, a level associated with a strengthening labor market.
“Overall, the level of claims remains low and is consistent with a healthy labor market,” said Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.
As has been pointed out many times, but obviously hasn’t sunken in, the “level of claims remains low” because so many people have just given up completely and dropped out of the system.
For the last six years it has been the nature of even media outlets that aren’t horribly biased (like Reuters) to overplay any positive economic data while almost completely ignoring negative data.
The reality is that the economy has moments of promise, but it hasn’t been able to string a lot of them in a row for quite some time now. It’s the “Little Engine That Could, But The Press Is Telling Us Is, Even If It Really Hasn’t Yet”.