The four-week running average preferred by most analysts because it flattens volatility in the weekly figure fell to 305,000, down 3,750 from the previous week's revised average of 308,750 (originally reported as 305,000). That's the lowest since May 2007.
For both the state and federal emergency unemployment compensation programs, the total number of Americans making claims for the week ending Sept. 14 was 4,002,455. That's an increase of 81,089 from the previous week. For the comparable week of 2012, there were 5,088,619 persons claiming benefits in both programs.
The total number of claimants has fallen because people have been hired, exhausted their benefits or dropped out of the workforce.
As I have noted previously:
During the past 40 years, the best 12-month period for initial claims was August 1999-July 2000 when the weekly average was 285,000. For the 12-month period ending Sept. 21, 2013, the weekly average was 358,000.
For decades, initial unemployment claims were viewed as a reasonably good predictor of job growth, with 400,000 new claims being viewed as the level at which healthy expansion would occur. But in the past couple of years, that average dropped to 370,000 and healthy growth in new jobs still has failed to appear. This has also proved true as the weekly average has fallen another 10,000 during 2013.
As a consequence, the value of new claims as a predictor of job growth has become ever more questionable. But they do, obviously, show that lay-offs are far less of a problem than they have been since the Great Recession began in December 2007.
8:46 AM PT: The Labor Department announced: "Due to the lapse in funding, the Employment Situation release which provides data on employment during the month of September, compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, will not be issued as scheduled on Friday, October 4, 2013. An alternative release date has not been scheduled."