The headline on this morning's jobless numbers is slightly encouraging. The number of people who filed initial unemployment claims last week fell by 31,000, to 473,000.
But the weekly numbers are really volatile. So the government also calculates a four-week moving average, which smooths out the week-to-week variations.
And the latest four-week moving average is bad: 486,750 initial claims, which is the worst since November, 2009. In a healthy economy, initial claims are typically below 400,000, the AP says.
So today's numbers suggest the government's next monthly update of overall unemployment -- due a week from tomorrow -- may contain more bad news.