While the economy in general has been recovering for some time, the most tangible aspect of the health of the economy for most Americans is the employment situation. After a strong March, there is more good news:
- The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in more than three years, a promising sign that companies feel better about the economy’s prospects and are less inclined to get rid of workers.
The Labor Department (news – web sites) reported Thursday that new applications filed for jobless claims declined by a seasonally adjusted 14,000 to 328,000 for the week ending April 3. That marked the lowest level since Jan. 13, 2001.
….The more stable four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, also went down last week by 3,250 to 336,750. That represented the lowest level since November 25, 2000.
The latest snapshot of layoffs raised hopes that recent improvements seen in the labor market might be sustained. A complete turnaround in the jobs market is the one missing piece of the economic recovery puzzle, analysts say.
The employment situation showed signs of turning an important corner in March. The economy added 308,000 jobs last month – the most in four years. While that’s definitely an improvement from payroll gains registered in previous months, economists want to see net job gains in the range of 200,000 to 300,000 a month on a consistent basis before they declare a recovery in the jobs market.
The nation’s unemployment rate, meanwhile, edged up to 5.7 percent in March as an improved economic climate beckoned more job seekers to look for work again.
….Economists believe the economy grew at a healthy annual rate of around 4.5 percent in the first quarter of this year and is expanding close to that pace in the current April to June quarter. [AP]
While things are very tough in Iraq right now, the fact that our military has been galvanized into decisive action there could actually speed up the transition to democracy if the militants can be crushed. And they will be.