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Jobless Claims—A Good Sign or a Weather Fluke?

CNBC News (02/23/12) Patti Domm

During the week ending Feb. 18, jobless claims held steady at 351,000, and continuing claims dropped by 52,000. Barclays Capital economists predict that 225,000 nonfarm jobs were added in February, and the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.1%. Although claims are improving, Credit Suisse economist Jonathan Basile says the unseasonably warm winter may be responsible, especially given that more construction jobs have opened at a time of year when layoffs are common. “I think we’re going to have to get through March, April, and May data to sort out whether this strength in jobless claims is a weather phenomena or a fundamental move,” he says.