First-time claims for unemployment have fallen by 20% in the past two weeks, contrary to widespread expectations that they would continue rising. Meanwhile, continuing claims for unemployment are at a new all-time high—so one explanation for the disparity would be that while companies may not be firing people at the same pace as before, those who have lost jobs can't find new ones, so things are still awful.
Or so they say. This data may prove to be an anomaly, a mystery, or a sign that this recession is winding down—it's too early to say for sure. A glance at past recession experience suggests that big declines in claims typically do signal the end of a recession. And with the onset of recession catching most people by surprise, that's what usually happens when recessions end. For the time being I'm going to file this with the other indicators out there that are saying that the economy is slowly recovering.