NEW JOB CLAIMS REPORT – AT 8:57 A.M. ET: Bloomberg is in full Obama spin mode this morning, trying to interpret this morning's jobs claims report as a gift from the Heavens. It isn't. Unemployment claims are down slightly, but that's about it.
Fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, easing concern the labor market may weaken in the second half.
Jobless claims decreased by 12,000 to 365,000 in the week ended Sept. 1, the fewest in a month, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a drop to 370,000.
Employers are limiting firings as demand warrants holding on to current workers, helping support consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy. At the same time, weak hiring and unemployment exceeding 8 percent pose a “grave concern,” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said last week as he made a case for further monetary easing.
“Clearly, the direction of claims is encouraging,” said Millan Mulraine, a senior U.S. strategist at TD Securities in New York. The improvement “doesn’t seem to be substantial, but we are moving in the right direction.”
Companies added more workers than forecast in August, another report today showed. Employment increased by 201,000, the biggest gain in five months, according to figures from Roseland, New Jersey-based ADP Employer Services. The median forecast of 41 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an advance of 140,000.
COMMENT: Figures rise and fall, and did even during the Great Depression. But Dems have two months to show that things are improving, and jobless claims of 365,000 won't do the trick.
However, employment increases will help Obama, if the numbers hold. How much they'll help will depend on what individual families and communities feel. The press will do all it can to spin the numbers favorably, and we know that's got to be worth a few points at the polls.
September 6, 2012