The latest figures from the US economy are not supportive of improving conditions in the labor market as data points continue to miss estimates. The downturn in employment has been steadily accelerating as evidenced by the latest initial jobless claims and challenger job cut reports. Initial jobless claims are now firmly back above 300,000 with the latest number coming in at 320,000. Challenger reports that layoffs have increased by approximately 20% year over year as 40% of announced job cuts in 2015 have come from the energy sector which is rapidly paring jobs amid the slump in prices. Disappointing factory orders data is adding to economic woes after contracting for 6-straight months. Nevertheless, equities remain elevated, anticipating today’s nonfarm payrolls.