Important Jobs Numbers Coming Up

-- April 30, 2004

Next week's jobs data should shed some more light on just how strong the economic recovery actually is. Weekly jobless claims have fallen for the past few months. Nevertheless, companies continue to lay off employees.

This week, supermarket chain Winn Dixie said it will cut up to 10,000 jobs. In March, over 90,000 employees were let go in mass layoffs across all industries. The largest group had been employed in the auto manufacturing sector - which is unlikely to rehire any time soon.

And while initial claims have fallen recently, continuing claims have remained rather steady - meaning that workers who are on the unemployment roles are staying there. But benefits expire every week for roughly 80,000 people, so for continuing claims to hold flat, 80,000 new ex-workers are filing continuing claims.

Bottom line: We're not yet convinced that meaningful job creation has taken hold. We'll get another important data point on May 6th when the jobless numbers for April are released.

related article:
Winn-Dixie to Close or Sell 156 Stores