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The last couple weeks in January saw weekly jobless claims drop dramatically from their four week moving average of roughly 353,000. 

In the most recent two weeks, jobless claims have jumped back above that average.  New applications for unemployment benefits fell by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000 in the week ended Feb. 2; expectations were for only 361,000.

weekly jobless claims

Initial claims from two weeks ago were also revised up to 371,00 from an original reading of 368,000

The four-week moving average, which I like to use as a less-volatile trend measurement, edged down by 2,250 to 350,500, marking a nearly five-year low.  This can be attributed to the low filings in late January.

The labor department also noted that continuing claims increased by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.22 million in the week ended Jan. 26.  These are the number of people already receiving claims and renewing their benefits.

What I found interesting is that U.S. productivity fell 2.0% in the fourth quarter (expectations were for a drop of 1.5%), as workers put in more hours but the production of goods and services barely changed.

Perhaps this is a seasonal anomaly, but it may also be a warning that all this hiring we have seen over the last couple years is not resulting in returns for those hiring companies; quarterly productivity growth has been on the decline since November 2009.

Regardless, unemployment claims are still within the range they need to be and the BLS and ADP reports are both giving us the data we “need” to see for now.  Muddle through is working for the time being it seems.

Since this news wasn’t earth shattering, I thought I’d have a little fun with the topic of employment and take a small survey. 

I’m curious to know what you do for a living and what your dream job would be (please list both)? 

If you’re not employed in your dream job, was it brushed aside because it didn’t pay enough or some other reason?  

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