Positive surprises like this are always good. Nobody should make the assumption that the economy is going to be bouncing back quickly or in a big way, but this is still a step in the right direction.
The number of Americans filing first- time claims for unemployment insurance payments unexpectedly declined last week, indicating the labor market recovery is gaining traction. Applications for jobless benefits decreased 15,000 in the week ended Feb. 4 to 358,000, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 370,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The four-week moving average, a less-volatile measure of claims, declined to 366,250, the lowest since April 26, 2008. The easing of dismissals is moving in tandem with a drop in the unemployment rate, which fell in January to a three-year low of 8.3 percent. Job creation also accelerated last month, showing the world’s largest economy is making headway in restoring the 8.3 million jobs lost during the 2007-2009 recession.