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What do the numbers really mean?

The most recent weekly unemployment statistics show that the four-week average of new claims fell by 7,000, and continuing claims–people who have lost a job but haven’t yet found a new one–saw their first weekly decline since Jan. 3, to 6.687 million.

The stats might be a little more useful if the continuing claims number contained one additional piece of information: how much of the decline resulted from people actually finding jobs, and how much represents people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and are no longer counted in the employment statistics.

Green shoots or brown weeds? Kind of hard to tell at this point–which is probably one reason the S&P continues to bounce around between roughly 920 and 950.

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