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Some good news.  

It's been quite a long time since initial unemployment claims reached a level this low. How long? Nearly six years.
Signaling a slower pace of layoffs, the number of people who applied for new jobless benefits fell 15,000 to 320,000 in the week that ended Aug. 10, hitting the lowest level of initial claims since October 2007, according to government data released Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected a claims level of 333,000, matching an original estimate for the prior week. On Thursday, the government slightly revised the initial claims level to 335,000 for the week that ended Aug. 3. The average of new claims over the past month, a more reliable gauge than the volatile weekly number, fell 4,000 to 332,000, also reaching the lowest level since the weeks leading up to the start of the Great Recession.
Maddow Blog

Although there are still way too many people unemployed, this is good news.  It's a good trend that might have been greater without the austerity imposed on the nation the last few years.  In a few years we may reach higher levels of employment, but even if we do, don't forget that in 2007, this was a greatly stratified society with huge problems.

Here is an excerpt from an article in the New York Times in July 2007, an era now seen almost as "good times."  

Those earlier barons disappeared by the 1920s and, constrained by the Depression and by the greater government oversight and high income tax rates that followed, no one really took their place. Then, starting in the late 1970s, as the constraints receded, new tycoons gradually emerged, and now their concentrated wealth has made the early years of the 21st century truly another Gilded Age.

Only twice before over the last century has 5 percent of the national income gone to families in the upper one-one-hundredth of a percent of the income distribution — currently, the almost 15,000 families with incomes of $9.5 million or more a year, according to an analysis of tax returns by the economists Emmanuel Saez at the University of California, Berkeley and Thomas Piketty at the Paris School of Economics.

Such concentration at the very top occurred in 1915 and 1916, as the Gilded Age was ending, and again briefly in the late 1920s, before the stock market crash. Now it is back, and Mr. Weill is prominent among the new titans. His net worth exceeds $1 billion, not counting the $500 million he says he has already given away, in the open-handed style of Andrew Carnegie and the other great philanthropists of the earlier age.

NY Times, July 15, 2007, The Richest of the Rich, Proud of a New Gilded Age

More jobs is essential.  People got to eat.  But it is a long struggle to a more decent society and there is much work to be done.  The inequality has not gone away.

Update I: More from Bloomberg News:

Claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly dropped last week to the lowest level in almost six years, signaling the U.S. job market continues to mend.

The number of applications for unemployment insurance payments declined by 15,000 to 320,000 in the week ended Aug. 10, the fewest since October 2007, from a revised 335,000, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 44 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 335,000. There was nothing unusual in the data and no states were estimated, a Labor Department spokesman said as the data was released to the press.

The slowdown in firings may be a precursor to a pickup in hiring, which would bolster household incomes and spending. Fewer dismissals are also helping boost consumer confidence as growth in the world’s largest economy shows signs of picking up in the second half of 2013.

“The labor market is improving,” said Brian Jones, a senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York, who projected 322,000, the closest of all economists surveyed by Bloomberg. “We’ve got decent momentum on consumer spending” heading into the third quarter, he said.

Bloomberg

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Comment Preferences

  •  How much of this is due to the fact (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy

    that many people are now considered among the Permanently unemployed?

    Also, how many people are underemployed - working part-time although they prefer full-time?

    How many people are overemployed - working 2 or even 3 part-time jobs in order to keep a roof over their head and gas in their car?

    What is the Labor Participation rate now?

    What effects of the the sequester on employment have yet to be felt?

    Sorry to be skeptical, but I don't think we're even close to being out of the woods on the issue of unemployment and jobs.

    WHERE ARE THEY?

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 06:49:03 AM PDT

    •  First, your question amkes no sense. (7+ / 0-)
      How much of this is due to the fact that many people are now considered among the Permanently unemployed?
      These are ne wbenefit applications.  In other words, new layoffs or people fired from jobs.

      Second, I never said "we're even close to being out of the woods on the issue of unemployment and jobs."

      I said this:

      Although there are still way too many people unemployed, this is good news.  It's a good trend that might have been greater without the austerity imposed on the nation the last few years.  In a few years we may reach higher levels of employment, but even if we do, don't forget that in 2007, this was a greatly stratified society with huge problems.
      Most of your questions are not relevant to this diary.  

       

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by TomP on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 06:53:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think PL's question reflects (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Phoebe Loosinhouse, divineorder

        immense frustration with the fact that unemployment numbers you tout as "good news" may, in fact, be quite biased.

        It's frustration I feel keenly, too.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:03:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How are these biased? (4+ / 0-)

          You're both talking about the unemployment numbers from DOL -- the percentage rate.  Not this data.

          There is a vested ideological interest in ignoring data and making up reasons why things are going to hell even thoiugh the reality is slow improvement.  Too slow, yes, but millions more have jobs in the last two years.  

          Read Krugman and Stiglitz.  They are very critical and consistently so about the failure ot increase demand and the impact on preventing a recovery.  But both recognize that things are slowly improving.  Their critiques are that it could and should be better.  

          My thesis, however, was even at "full employment," there still will be great inequality.  

          Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

          by TomP on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:07:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We-e-e-lll... (0+ / 0-)

            As I understand it, the numbers you discuss don't reflect the long-term unemployed, who are legion, so when the corporate media touts them as a sign of "recovery," it IS biased. It's insulting, as well.

            It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

            by karmsy on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:51:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  They are still good news (4+ / 0-)

          It is true that they don't tell the whole story of the labor market, as they don't take into account things like those who have given up, underemployment, time between getting a new job after losing one, and other things, but these figures aren't intended to so so.

    •  Millions more have jobs now than did at the depths (4+ / 0-)

      the recession in 2009.  That is good for millions of people.  While many still suffer and we need many more jobs, to ignore the good and only focus on the bad is an ideological choice.  In any event, my point was that even if we have "fuill employment," it will be in a very unequal society.

      You seemed to have just given me a rote response for why things suck.  

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by TomP on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 06:56:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry to be negative (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP, divineorder

        But things do suck. I think the most valid indicator is the labor participation number.

        July Jobs Report Masks Real Problems In US Labor Markets

        The unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell in part because 37,000 workers dropped out of the labor force, meaning they gave up looking for work. The labor-force participation rate, which measures the percentage of working-age Americans who are working or looking for work, fell to 63.4 percent in July, near a 35-year low.

        The civilian employment-population ratio, which measures how many working-age Americans actually have jobs, was flat at 58.7 percent, near the lowest in 30 years and down from more than 63 percent before the recession.

        “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

        by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:12:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's cool. (3+ / 0-)

          I suppose it is perspective.  I think things are slowly improving for some people but they still suck for many people.  

          Millions of jobs matter.  It's better now than in 2009 for many people.  It does not mean it is good.  

          This is good news, but it does not mean a whole lot.  It does not mean that "good times" are here.  It's far better to have only 330,000 new unemployed than 400,000.  

          Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

          by TomP on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:19:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I do apologize for my response being (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP

            the first in your diary. I can be knee-jerky sometimes and I had already read some stuff about the unemployment rate not necessarily being the good harbinger one would assume.

            I appreciate your diary and your perspective.

            “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

            by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:23:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks. No problem (0+ / 0-)

              about being first.  That is prefectly fine.  I do not protect theads in my diaries.  You are always welcome to post the first comment if that is when you post it.  

              I'm glad you commented.  I over reacted a bit anyway.

              It's all cool.    

              Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

              by TomP on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:26:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  ^ Ignoring this is an ideological choice as well. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TomP

          Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

          by divineorder on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:21:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It actually has nothing (5+ / 0-)

      to do with that.  The statistics cited do not concern the unemployment rate.  They are the measure of actual applications by new applicants for unemployment benefits.  There is no statistical wizardry done.  This is simply a report from DOL, based on reporting from the 50 state Departments of Labor, of how many new people applied for benefits in that week.  Declines in new applications is a leading indicator of both lower unemployment and greater economic growth. That means that it points to improvements down the road in those areas.  

      With the Decision Points Theater, the George W. Bush Presidential Library becomes the very first Presidential Library to feature a Fiction Section.

      by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:21:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  stock market tanking (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    It's kind of sad the more good economic news we get the worse the market does. They are afraid they won't get free money anymore!

  •  I really wish that diarists would use EMRATIO (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder

    instead of using  a drop in initial jobless claims and trumpeting that as good news.

    The EMRATIO stands at 58.7.  For context, it was 58.7 last fall.  Hell, it was 60.6 when Obama was inaugurated in 2009.  During the Clinton years, it stood above 64.0.  The economy is bouncing along like those failed airplane designs from 110 years ago; it isn't soaring.

    Paul Krugman argued in 2008-2009 and the stimulus would be too small, and thus ineffective and then discredited.  Things were exacerbated when Obama pivoted to deficit reduction in his quest for a "Grand Bargain."

    I didn't mean to rag on the diarist, I just wish people here would use the resources at http://research.stlouisfed.org/

    Using the U6 and EMRATIO data is just a better measure of the labor market in this prolonged depression.

    "The working class mind is strange and unpredictable" -- Ty Lookwell

    by Illinibeatle on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:05:49 AM PDT

  •  Job losses set to be recovered in mere decades (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder

    but some still seek more progress.

    I mean really, generations are literally going to be lost over this and yet most of the serious people are somewhere between mildly disappointed and cautiously optimistic.

    If there ever was a mystery as to why things are as they are, certainly by now it has been entirely cleared up.

    Electoral horse races are not what REALITY means when it says "Bring It."
    Not even close. In the purchase price of solving our problems, electoral politics is an incidental fee. The real sacrifice required is far, far greater.

    by Words In Action on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:13:53 AM PDT

    •  ....and no amount of putting lipstick on a pig (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action

      is going to make things better for the millions of young people with no hope. Republicans are at fault in the main, but  cannot ignore that many in our Party leadership, including its Leader the President, have failed them miserably in exchange for doing the bidding of the 1%.  Fact.

      Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

      by divineorder on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:24:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, TomP. As you say, much (5+ / 0-)

    more needs to be done, but this is encouraging.

    With the Decision Points Theater, the George W. Bush Presidential Library becomes the very first Presidential Library to feature a Fiction Section.

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:16:36 AM PDT

  •  Thanks Tom. The anti-Obama folks have (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OnlyWords, TomP

    difficulty acknowledging any good. You framed it exactly right. I sometimes have to check to see what site I'm on.

    Further, affiant sayeth not. 53959

    by Gary Norton on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 08:31:27 AM PDT

  •  Good to see at least one (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    labor metric improve. (and yes,I know that some reasons for this aren't good) Like you,Tom,my continued focus is on wealth inequality. Given that the jobs we are creating are so underpaid (& unable to create much demand),I really wish the Democratic Party would be more vocal in supporting a significant rise in the minimum wage. Fascinating chart here.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/...
     

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 10:34:25 AM PDT

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