As the average period of unemployment continued to increase in July, the median decreased for the first time in months, Labor Department data shows.
Average duration of unemployment, in weeks:
Median duration of unemployment, in weeks:
This graph from the St. Louis Fed shows median duration tends to really trend lower only after a recovery has begun—the shaded areas indicate recessions—and in the last two recessions, it didn't drop until well into the recovery. Long-term unemployment is obviously one of the biggest problems in the labor market right now. The next few months will tell whether the July data really signaled something positive or not.