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RTRS: Jobless claims rise, but four-week average at two-month low
 
The number of Americans

filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last

week, but the four-week average of claims fell to a two-month

low, indicating that labor market conditions continue to

tighten.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased

14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 257,000 for the week ended April

22, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior

week was revised to show 1,000 fewer applications received than

previously reported.

Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated

with a healthy labor market, for 112 straight weeks. That is the

longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was

smaller. The labor market is close to full employment, with the

unemployment rate at a near 10-year low of 4.5 percent.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time

applications for jobless benefits rising to 245,000 last week.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no special

factors influencing last week's data and only claims for

Louisiana had been estimated.

Claims, however, tend to be volatile around this time of the

year because of the different timings of spring and Easter

holidays, which often throws off the model the government uses

to smooth the data of seasonal fluctuations.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better

measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week

volatility, fell 500 to 242,250 last week, the lowest level

since February.

The claims report also showed the number of people

still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose

10,000 to 1.99 million in the week ended April 15.

It was the second straight week that the so-called

continuing claims remained below 2 million. The four-week moving

average of continuing claims fell 16,000 to 2.0 million, the

lowest level since June 2000.

The continuing claims data covered the survey week for

April's unemployment rate. The four-week average of claims fell

23,500 between the March and April survey periods, suggesting a

further improvement in the unemployment rate after it dropped

two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.5 percent last month.

Source