The latest unemployment numbers show the number of newly laid-off workers unexpectedly dropped by 12,000 to end last week at 545,000 claims. Analysts expected claims to rise by 5,000, but instead, we got third decline of the past four weeks and the lowest level of claims since early July. California had the largest drop in claims (-2,751), followed by New York, Wisconsin, Texas, and New Jersey.
This turn is proof that the labor market is continuing to show signs of improvement, though it’s moving as slow as molasses in the winter time.
In other good news, according to the Fed, Americans’ net worth–the value of their assets minus their debts–rose for the first time in two years, up in both the first and second quarters of 2009. The Fed attributes the increase to gains in stock values, up 21.6% from the first quarter, and to rising home values, up 1.8%.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said he believed the recession was probably over, but warned that recovery, and job growth especially, woud be slow.
All in all, not a bad week of economic news.