William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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OH DEAR, MORE BOTHER – AT 9:29 A.M. ET:  What is it about this economy?  Why won't it do what Barack (come to save us) wants it to do?  We've been told that the labor market is improving, that jobs are on the way.  Not so fast.  From Bloomberg: 

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments rose for the first time in five weeks, a sign further improvement in the labor market depends on faster economic growth.

Applications for jobless benefits increased by 17,000 to 361,000 in the week ended Dec. 15, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 360,000 claims, according to the Bloomberg survey median.

The figures signal the expansion probably needs to proceed more quickly to encourage companies to hold the line on headcounts and step up hiring while Congress debates the nation’s budget and tax rates. The Federal Reserve said last week it intends to keep policy accommodative to invigorate the economy and help sustain a decline in joblessness.

“This number gets us back into the range we’ve been in really since the spring,” said Omair Sharif, a U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut, who forecast claims would rise to 360,000. “We’re not waiting to see much more improvement on the layoff side. We’re just waiting for the hiring side to get going.”

COMMENT:  Recent figures do indicate an improvement in housing values, but that could reverse very quickly if the job market doesn't improve.  Economic growth is now about three percent.  Not bad, but not the kind of growth we need to get us back to the better place we were in six years ago. 

We are precarious.  We also have weak leadership in Washington.  No one is predicting a boom in 2013.

December 20, 2012