The number of people filing for first time unemployment benefits fell slightly but continued in recession levels for the week ending September 6th, according to the US Department of Labor. Claims fell 6,000, to 445,000. Economists were expecting 440,000 new claims for the week. Initial claims running consistently atop the 350,000 mark would signal some weakening in the labor market. Claims above 400,000 are seen by many as a signal of recession.

Having witnessed extremely volatile measurements in the past few weeks, it is wise to consider the four-week moving average of initial claims, which smooths out one-time factors such as bad weather or holidays. The four-week moving average was also higher, by 250 in the latest week, to 440,000.

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