New claims for unemployment insurance ticked downward last week by 4,000, to 570,000, the Department of Labor reports. The four-week moving average, which generally smooths out the blips of any given period, showed an increase of 4,000 from the week before.
Economists consider a healthy number of new weekly claims to be between 300,000 and 350,000. Whatever's going on with the numbers -- and the big August unemployment report should help fill in the picture Friday -- we're nowhere near normal.
As of August 22, some 6,234,000 were collecting unemployment benefits, up 92,000 from the week before. As of August 15, another 3 million people were receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation, a federally funded program that allows for 33 additional weeks of benefits in high-unemployment states. The emergency benefits rolls grew by 85,570 from the week before.