Thursday, November 08, 2007

More data - initial claims

Remember in class I told you that the data is coming in all over the place? Well initial claims were just released and came in fairly positive. You can read about it here .

The number of U.S. residents filing for unemployment benefits decreased by 13,000 last week to stand at 317,000, the lowest level in a month, the Labor Department reported Thursday.'

but

The four-week average of new claims rose by 2,000 to 329,750, the highest level since the week of April 21. The four-week average is considered a better gauge of labor market health than the volatile weekly number because it smoothes out one-time events such as weather, strikes or holidays

on the other hand

Economists are puzzled that unemployment claims have remained fairly steady and low even as the nation's job growth has slowed significantly in the past few months.
One explanation could be that firms are not hiring because they're uncertain about the future. That same uncertainty keeps them from laying off workers who might be needed if the economy rebounds

But the job market hasn't slowed to a worrisome extent yet. You can read about the Oct payroll report here. On the other hand, data on the housing is extremely weak and point to continued declines. With the inventories of homes remaining high, there is a very strong case to be made that home prices have a ways to fall and this could hurt consumption, and job growth, in the future.

As you can see, the Fed's job is not as simple as black or white. There is a lot of grey.