Initial Jobless Claims Fall to April 2008 Levels For Week Ended February 4, 2012:
Benefits extensions need reconsideration in an improving jobs market.
The number of Americans filing for jobless claims fell again this week. Jobless claims for the week ended February 4, 2012 fell 15,000 to 358,000 the Labor Department said today. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected 370,000 claims for the week even though the trend in jobless claims is clearly falling week after week. Jobs trends in the U.S. continue to improve with the four-week moving average of new jobless claims filings hitting its lowest level of 366,250 since April 2008 when the financial crisis was in full swing.
The jobs market continues to show signs of recovering and the news from the Labor Department wasn’t widely talked about today due to the Greek debt deal. The Greek debt deal announced today was devoid of much information but the headlines helped contribute to the market rally today and stocks moved higher with the Dow rising more comfortably above 12,000. Some major news outlets and sites ignored the jobs number completely and as the economy improves, more people are coming out of the woodwork to claim the economy is moving in the right direction as the evidence becomes too hard to ignore. Today’s news about the increase in jobs is another signal that the economy will most likely not go back into recession and gives economists more evidence that the new recovery won’t be jobless.
Should The Jobless Benefits Time Period Be Extended?
Now it’s time to focus on extending jobless claims as the trend of firms firing workers declines. Should jobless claims be extended past the current 94 months? If the trend in job creation continues, new questions about the plausibility of extending jobs benefits past the traditional timeline might come to the fore. It’s time to begin looking at how to entice more workers to participate in the labor force. Pictures of long lines of people looking for jobs aren’t as prevalent as in months past and although this conversation is somewhat premature – it’s a discussion that needs to begin.