One of my two favorite weekly pieces of economic data is the initial unemployment claim data published Thursday mornings by the Department of Labor.  Today's preliminary figure came in at 397,000.  This is only the second time since April (think Japaneses tsunami) that the figure came in below 400,000.  Unemployment claims are running about 45,000 to 50,000 lower than last year, but we need another year or 18 months of continued improvement at this rate before we have robust growth.

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