I'm fortunate to be among the employed once again. Let's not forget, however, that lots of people are not so lucky.
The number of Americans lining up to claim unemployment benefits fell in the latest week, the government said on Thursday in the second sign in less than a week that job losses may be slowing.
First-time claims for state unemployment benefits fell 17,000 to 430,000 in the June 7 week, the Labor Department said. Analysts were expecting claims of 424,000.
The latest week's decline almost offsets a 22,000 increase in claims for the week ended May 31, which was partly due to seasonal adjustment factors for the Memorial Day holiday.
The four-week moving average, a more reliable indicator of job market health because it irons out weekly fluctuations, rose to 433,750 from 431,500 in the prior week.
Analysts were encouraged by a Labor Department report last Friday showing companies cut fewer workers than feared in May.
In another outrageous distoryion of the so-called "liberal media," the article neglets to mention anywhere -- as many of its predecessors have, week after week -- that new jobless claims over 400,000 are widely regarded as indicative of a weak labor market. We aren't out of the woods yet, folks, as this Dow Jones story -- which does report that jobless claims have been above 400,000 for 17 weeks in a row -- indicates (it also points out that whatever recovery the economy is experiencing is far from nationwide):
Initial jobless claims dropped by 17,000 to 430,000 in the week that ended June 7, the Labor Department said Thursday. But other numbers highlighted what Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (news - web sites) has called an "exceptionally weak" jobs market: the four-week average of claims, which smoothes out weekly fluctuations, rose to a three-week high of 433,750.
Moreover, the number of workers drawing unemployment benefits for more than a week surged to a 20-year high in the week that ended May 31, the latest period for which those statistics are available. Continuing claims rose by 120,000 to 3.8 million. The unemployment rate for workers with unemployment insurance climbed to 3%, the highest level since November 2001.
The increase in initial claims matched Wall Street's expectations precisely. But a Labor Department statistician said the numbers should be viewed with caution because of typical "volatility" that affects initial-claims data around holidays. He said the previous week's numbers also may have been skewed by the Memorial Day holiday.
For 17 consecutive weeks, the volume of initial claims for unemployment benefits has remained above 400,000 -- a level that economists associate with a shrinking jobs market.
In all, 26 states and territories reported an increase in unadjusted initial claims for the week of May 31 while 29 reported a decrease. North Carolina reported the biggest increase, a gain of 5,819 that it attributed to layoffs in the textile and construction industries. California reported the biggest decrease, saying claims declined by 5,663 because of fewer layoffs in the construction and service industries, and in agriculture.
By the way, I may have benefited from the fact that IT unemployment is beginning to subside.
The IT job market is perking up despite a rise in overall joblessness. IT unemployment fell to 5.3% in May from 5.7% a year earlier and 6.0% in April, the Labor Department reported Friday. Overall unemployment rose 0.1% to a nine-year high of 6.1% last month, up from 5.8% a year earlier.
...Since the end of the dot-com boom, when IT unemployment bottomed out at 1.7% in June 2000, joblessness among IT pros has soared, reaching a high of 6.5% in March. May's number suggests a recovery is under way.
But what I'd really like to know is, exactly when are Bush's economic policies supposed to start benefiting average Americans?