Unemployment claims haven't budged this year—they've averaged 374K per week, and that's the latest figure as well. So although the economy is not improving meaningfully, neither is it deteriorating. But there are improvements on the margin, as shown in the chart above. The number of people receiving unemployment insurance has dropped 18.5% relative to a year ago, and that represents 1.2 million people who are either now working or who have an increased incentive to find and accept a new job.
Those who are working are seeing ongoing increases in their real incomes. Even though there are 5 million fewer jobs today than at the peak in early 2008, real incomes have reached a new high. Real incomes have risen at a 3.6% annualized pace over the past six months, and reeal disposable income is up 2% over the past year. None of this is anything to write home about, but it is still progress.
The economy continues to grow at a modest pace.