New claims for U.S. unemployment benefits dipped slightly in the third week in April, although the numbers disappointed economists, who had predicted a notable drop.
According to the Labor Department, new unemployment claims for the week ended April 21st came in at a seasonally adjusted level of 388,000.
The figure for the latest week marks a marginal drop from the previous week's revised level of 389,000, which was revised up from the 386,000 initially reported.
Most economists had forecast a somewhat more significant drop in the level of new claims, predicting the figure would fall to roughly 375,000.
While jobless claims remained below the key 400,000 level, they came in above 380,000 for the third consecutive week.
Peter Boockvar, managing director at Miller Tabak, said, "Bottom line, the 1st week above 380,000 we were able to cite Good Friday as a reason in distorting the seasonals. The 2nd week in a row above 380,000 we said it bears watching."
"Now the 3rd week in a row above 380,000 and it's more clear that the downward trend in firing's has stopped for now," he added.
Labor department officials said seasonal factors had predicted only a slight, 0.7 percent decline in new unemployment claims for the latest week. The figures reported from the states differed only slightly, showing a 0.9 percent decline.
The four-week moving average of new unemployment claims, a figure that reduces the week-to-week volatility of the reports, showed an increase to 381,750, up 6,250 from the previous week's revised average of 375,500.
The total number of people claiming unemployment insurance, a figure known as continuing claims, increased by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted level of 3.315 million for the week ended April 14th. That comes in slightly higher than the 3.3 million level predicted by most economists.
Meanwhile, the four-week average of continuing claims declined 9,750 to 3,311750 from the previous week's revised average of 3,321,500.
According to Labor Department figures, the April 14th average is the lowest four-week moving average for continuing unemployment claims since early August of 2008.
Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its closely watched monthly employment report for April.
by RTT Staff Writer
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