Initial Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Inch Higher to 558,000

First-time jobless claims rose unexpectedly, but the number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits overall fell by 100,000 to 6.2 million, its lowest mark since April, in a mixed sign that layoffs are slowing. Big picture: Unemployment will probably still hit 10 percent, but we're very clearly at that point on the unemployment mountain where the terrain is less like a vertical cliff and more like a walkable hill.

New claims rose to a seasonally-adjusted 558,000, while analysts estimated it to drop to 545,000. This is the first time in a month and a half that the four-week average of initial jobless claims has increased. Calculated Risk has that graph (below), and wonders whether we might be seeing unemployment benefits falling because many unemployed people simply exhausted their jobless insurance:

This changes very little in terms of the big picture. When initial jobless claims fall consistently, it means that layoffs are easing. Many economists see it as a crucial sign of the economy rounding a corner, because it indicates that more businesses are seeing a bottom and are hunkering down rather than continuing to purge their payrolls.