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Lower Jobless Claims Don’t Point to Robust Labor Market

Wall Street Journal (12/24/15) Eric Morath

Less than 15 million Americans will make first-time requests for government assistance this year—about half as many claims as were made in 2009—and far fewer than the number filed during the 1980s and 1990s when the economy was expanding at a stronger clip. However, “the labor market is certainly not the healthiest it’s been since 1973,” says Zach Pandl, Goldman Sachs economist. “Broader measures of slack in the economy have not improved as much as jobless claims.” The greatest concern in the labor market now is the persistently large number of individuals who remain unemployed for months or years, and those stuck in low-paying and part-time jobs.