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Is this the turning point?

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According to official data revealed on Wednesday, the unemployment claimant count (ie the number of people getting dole money) fell in November for the first time in nearly two years.

Granted, it could be a statistical blip; and if this was some spurious barometer of business confidence in this or that industry then we’d be sceptical.

But unemployment figures are some of the most accurate available. More importantly, they are based on tangible events (people losing their job), not whether this or that company is feeling good about the future.

Better yet, unemployment figures tend to trail economic downturns, meaning the jobless count continues to rise well after official figures suggest the economy is expanding.

Analysts, stifling their excitement, argue today’s news could mean third quarter growth (at minus 0.3 per cent) will be revised up and that the fourth quarter will see an emphatic return to positive growth.

"It reinforces the point that the economy is probably not contracting as much as the Q3 GDP data suggested and reinforces the case that the Q4 GDP will show a robust pace of expansion," said a clever person at BNP Paribas.  Claimant count unemployment dropped 6,300 in November against expectations of a whopping increase of 13,000. A nice little Christmas present for everyone.

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