The weekly initial claims report came in exactly where economists predicted, which tells us ... not a whole lot about which way the economy is going. There were 369,000 new unemployment filers last week, down 23,000 from the week before. However, the week before was revised higher by 4,000 and the four-week average is up by 1,500, which really means almost no change at all in state of the job market.
In case you haven't heard, there's an election in two weeks and the search for signs how it will go is full hyperdrive. Anything that looks good for the economy is good for the president's re-election chances. Anything that's bad is bad and anything that's neutral is bad too, because neutral doesn't help predict the future. The best one can say after such a small change is that things probably aren't getting worse at the moment. Not exactly the kind of news you hitch your wagon to.
At the same time the claims report came out, the Commerce Department also announced that durable good orders rose 9.9 percent, which is a way more encouraging sign. That was the biggest monthly gain since 2010, thanks in part to a big month for aircraft maker Boeing. If companies are selling more stuff, they need more workers, though it may take some time before we start to see that effect hit the job market. Enough time to help Barack Obama by November? You'll have to wait for the next data dump to find out.