There were 366,000 first-time clams for unemployment insurance last week, down just 5,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reports.
Of note: that number from the previous week — 371,000 — is an upward revision. A week ago, the agency estimated there had been 368,000 claims over that period.
Basically, the pace changed little last week. As Bloomberg News says:
“Claims, after see-sawing in prior weeks as the government had trouble adjusting the data for seasonal swings, are settling at a level that signals there is little change in the pace of firings from last year.”
Also this morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said productivity at U.S. businesses fell at a 2 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2012. While output went up 0.1 percent, the number of hours worked rose by 2.2 percent. So, Americans worked longer but output did not go up significantly. According to The Associated Press, much of the decline can be attributed to cutbacks at defense contractors.