While the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing a modest drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended March 24th, jobless claims came in above economist estimates due to an upward revision to the previous week's data.
The report showed that jobless claims edged down to 359,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 364,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 350,000 from the 348,000 originally reported for the previous week.
The Labor Department noted that the latest figures reflect a revision to the weekly unemployment claims seasonal adjustment factors, resulting in revisions to the data going all the way back to 2007.
As a result of the revisions, the figure for the latest week reflects the lowest number of jobless claims since claims came in at 352,000 in the week ended April 19th, 2008.
However, Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, noted that the number of jobless claims over the past two months have been pushed by an average of 8,000.
"But the good news is, the trend is still our friend and it shows that fewer Americans are filing for unemployment insurance, which suggests that job growth continued," she added.
The report showed that the four-week moving average, which eliminates some of the week-to-week volatility, slipped to 365,000 from the previous week's revised average of 368,500.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment benefits, also dropped to 3.34 million in the week ended March 17th from the preceding week's revised level of 3.381 million.
Lee said the drop by continuing claims is "in itself, good news, and especially so since that covers the payroll survey week of March 17."
"However, given the upward revision to the level, it does suggest that payroll growth slowed in March, but still likely in the 200,000 range," she added.
Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its closely watched monthly report for March despite the Good Friday holiday.
by RTT Staff Writer
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