number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose less than
expected last week and remained near its pre-recession levels, offering further
evidence of the economy's underlying strength.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits ticked up 2,000 to
a seasonally adjusted 304,000 for the week ended April 12, the Labor Department
said on Thursday. They stayed close to a 6-1/2 year low touched the prior week.
Claims for the week ended April 5 were revised to show 2,000 more
applications received than previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications
for jobless benefits rising to 315,000.
The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better
measure of underlying labor market conditions as it irons out week-to-week
volatility, fell 4,750 to 312,000, the lowest level since October 2007.
A Labor Department analyst said no states were estimated and there
were no special factors influencing the state level data.
The claims data covered the survey week for April nonfarm
payrolls. Despite last week's increase, claims were down 19,000 between the
March and April survey periods, which suggests an acceleration in job growth.
Job growth averaged about 195,000 per month in February and March,
with the unemployment rate holding at near a five-year low of 6.7 percent over
Labor market indicators such as job openings, the duration of
unemployment and short-term unemployment, suggest some tightening in
The health of the labor market will most likely determine when the
Federal Reserve will start raising benchmark interest rates, which it has kept
near zero since December 2008.
The Fed is expected to wind up its monthly bond buying program
later this year and most economists expect the first rate hike will be in the
second half of 2015.
The claims report showed the number of people still receiving
benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 11,000 to 2.74 million in the
week ended April 5. That was the lowest level since December 2007.
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