Explaining Southern California's economy

California sees biggest unemployment claims drop in U.S.

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First-time unemployment claims fell substantially in California for the week ended October 6, according to the Labor Department.

California has seen the biggest unemployment claims drop in the U.S. That's the good news. Sort of. The bad news, according to the Labor Department, is that first-time unemployment claims rose nationally last week, to 388,000 from the previous week's 342,000 (the lowest since early 2008).

That was for last week. For the week ending October 6 (specific state data is laggy), California saw first-time claims fall by nearly 5,000 — exceeding number two Alabama by...about 4,700. 

The general view of economists is that these numbers, while below the important 400,000 number, don't represent anything close to a healthy labor market. Rather, they show a market moving sideways, with limited layoffs and firings but without much hiring.

A word of warning: This is some pretty noisy data, currently being affected by changes in seasonal hiring patterns. The Labor Department generates a four-week moving average that's less volatile. For the most recent report, it show a pace of initial claims that was little changed, at around 365,000.

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