I guess it just goes to show that the American economy can withstand incompetence, cronyism, corruption, and redistributionist idiocy and still struggle to make a comeback.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to a near four-year low, suggesting the labor market recovery was gaining steam.
Other government data on Thursday also pointed to sustained momentum in the economy, with builders breaking more ground on new residential projects in January and little signs of a pick-up in inflation pressures.
"The job market is getting better and that's really key. We're still in the early innings of this but I'm glad to see another data point that adds to the picture of an improving economy," said Kevin Caron, market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in Florham Park, New Jersey
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000, the Labor Department said, the lowest level since March 2008.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 365,000. The four-week moving average for new claims, seen as a better measure of labor market trends, fell 1,750 to 365,250 - the lowest since April 2008.
In a separate report, the Commerce Department said housing starts rose 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 699,000 units last month, beating economists' expectations for a 675,000-unit pace.
Starts were boosted by multi-unit buildings, reflecting growing demand for rental apartments as Americans move away from homeownership. Permits for future home construction rose 0.7 percent to a 676,000-unit pace in January.
It's true that 348,000 people filing first time unemployment claims is still far too large. Under 300,000 would be indicative of an economy revving up to grow at a pace that would add jobs in the hundreds of thousands instead of barely keeping ahead of new entrants to the job market every month (we need more than 125,000 new jobs every month just to employ those recent entrants.).
But the idea that the jobs picture is improving can only be good news to those who have been unemployed far too long.