Initial Jobless Claims
Initial Jobless Claims in U.S. Fall 16,000 Last Week to 339,000
Fewer Americans than forecast filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments last week, pointing to an improving labor market.
Applications for jobless benefits decreased by 16,000 to 339,000 in the week ended April 20, the lowest since March 9. Economists projected 350,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Jobless Claims data typically bounce around this time of year. The figures indicate companies have enough confidence to maintain current staffing levels and are in a position to add to headcount should sales strengthen. At the same time, recent data showing the economy began to cool at the end of the first quarter give businesses reason to pause, prolonging the time it takes joblessness to retreat to pre-recession levels.
Estimates for first-time claims ranged from 340,000 to 370,000 in the Bloomberg survey of 49 economists. The Labor Department revised the previous week’s figure up to 355,000, from an initially reported 352,000. While a Labor Department spokesman said there was nothing unusual that affected today’s figures, he said big swings in claims are common this month because of layoffs related to
school vacations and holidays such as Easter that don’t always occur during the same week each year. He also said the period of
swings in unadjusted data should be coming to an end.
The four-week moving average of claims, a less-volatile measure, fell to 357,500 from 362,000. The number of people continuing to collect jobless benefits fell by 93,000 to 3 million in the week ended April 13, the lowest since May 2008. The continuing claims figure does not include the number of workers receiving extended benefits under federal programs.
Those who’ve used up their traditional benefits and are now collecting emergency and extended payments rose by about 7,600
to 1.79 million in the week ended April 6. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits fell to 2.3 percent in the week ended April 13.
Next week, the Labor Department will release April’s report on the U.S. employment situation. Economists in a Bloomberg survey forecast the labor market regained some ground, with payrolls expanding by 155,000 after an 88,000 a month earlier. In the six months ended in March, employment averaged 188,000.