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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jobless claims climb back to level seen for much of 2012

The initial weekly jobless claims report showed a jump from 330,000 to 368,000.

This may finally mark the end of a volatile reporting period and mean the weekly report once again will be a reliable gauge for the health of the jobs market. For several weeks, the reports have been jumping around, once topping the 400,000 mark, then dropping to a five-year-low of 330,000.

The 368,000 claims reported this morning are more in line with where things had been for most of 2012 until the reports became distorted by Superstorm Sandy and other seasonal factors.

The consensus of economists is that anything consistently below about 375,000 means growth in the jobs market, and 400,000 is about the break-even point, where the market is neither really growing or contracting. The 368,000 level is a solid number. The four-week average, which is a more stable number, came in at an even better 352,000.

The broadest measure of the jobs market comes out tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. with the monthly unemployment report.

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