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Job-Market Bellwether Strengthens

Wall Street Journal (02/10/12) Conor Dougherty

New claims for unemployment insurance declined 15,000 to 358,000 last week, the government reported Feb. 9, and the four-week moving average, at 366,250, reached its lowest level since April 2008. Economists welcomed the news, but some expressed caution that the job market could still stumble.

The recent warm weather likely contributed to more job creation in January and is also playing a part in declining jobless claims, because warm weather spurs building projects and other activities. In fact, a number of states said their jobless claims indicated fewer layoffs in construction. Furthermore, the volatility caused by hiring around the holidays seems to be subsiding.