First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits showed a notable increase in the week ended April 7th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday, with the data raising some concerns about the outlook for the jobs market.
The report showed that initial jobless claims rose to 380,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 367,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge up to 359,000 from the 357,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the sizable increase in the latest week, jobless claims rose to their highest level since coming in at 381,000 in late January.
"After last week's disappointing payroll report, all eyes were trained to the latest weekly claims data," said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. "Unfortunately, they confirmed the recent softening in job growth."
She added, "Granted, there could be some quirkiness to this particular period given that it was a holiday-shortened week but still."
The Labor Department said its less volatile four-week moving average rose to 368,500 from the previous week's revised average of 364,250.
Meanwhile, continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance dropped to 3.251 million in the week ended March 31st from the preceding week's revised level of 3.349 million.
Last Friday, the Labor Department released its closely watched monthly employment report, showing much weaker than expected job growth in the month of March.
The report showed that non-farm payroll employment increased by 120,000 jobs in March, while economists had expected the addition of about 201,000 jobs
Despite the weaker than expected job growth, the unemployment rate unexpectedly edged down to 8.2 percent in March from 8.3 percent in February. With the unexpected drop, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since coming in at 7.8 percent in January of 2009.
by RTT Staff Writer
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