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
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
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
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.