Today's economic "green shoot" of the day

For the first week all year, the total number of Americans collecting unemployment doesn't break a record

By Andrew Leonard

Published June 4, 2009 1:05PM (EDT)

Every week this year, the Thursday message from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been the same: The total number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits broke a new record.

Until today. For the first time in 18 weeks, the total number of people collecting unemployment fell by 15,000, to 6,735,000.

Initial jobless claims for the week ending May 30 also fell 4000, to 621,000, providing some hope that the most alarming phase of the economic contraction is over.

There's still nothing that can legitimately be called a recovery -- when over 600,000 people apply for unemployment insurance in any given week, the U.S. economy is sick. The government's April unemployment figures, to be released on Friday, will likely indicate another half million jobs lost.

But at least for this one week at the end of spring, the news isn't quite as bad as we've become accustomed to.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Great Recession How The World Works Unemployment U.s. Economy