Summary: Although new weekly unemployment claims jumped last week to the highest point since January, the US appears to be dealing well with the massive unemployment problem it was facing back in 2009.
What does the chart show? The chart shows weekly claims on unemployment insurance in the US. The red line, measured against the left hand axis, shows new claims, and is therefore a measure of how many people have been made unemployed that week. The blue line, measured against the right hand axis, shows continuing claims, or the total number of unemployed people. Both are seasonally adjusted and shown in thousands of people.
Why is the chart interesting? Unemployment in the US was a major problem in 2009, with a total of 6.63 million people claiming unemployment insurance and 667,000 new unemployed people every week at the peak. Unemployment has been dropping steadily since then, and it is now getting closer to pre-crisis levels. Last week, new claims rose to 380,000 (the highest level since January), but continuing claims continued to drop to 3.25m people. Although the US economy is not quite out of the woods yet, unemployment seems to be much less of a problem than it was.