Numbers released on March 14 by the Department of Labor (DoL) indicate that first-time jobless claims declined by 10,000 during the first full week of March 2013, though the overall rate of the insured unemployed remained stable at 2.4 percent. The third straight week of declining numbers in initial claims came as a surprise to those tracking the labor market. An increase in claims had been widely predicted, as they had been widely predicting a increase of 10,000 filings during the time period.
'The four week moving average of new claims was also at a five year a low. According to Reuters this is a better indicator of economic direction as it suggests a firming in underlying labor market conditions.
"The recent labor market data signal at least steady, and potentially improving, job growth so far in 2013 despite the implementation of various forms of fiscal tightening," said JPMorgan economist Daniel Silver, according to Reuters.
While the numbers are widely hailed as better than forecasted, filings for jobless benefits offer only a partial picture of the state of the labor market, as the numbers only reflect those out of work Americans who both qualify for unemployment and who are actively seeking a new position.