The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose marginally last week, staying near a 15-year low in a sign that the labor market continues to strengthen despite moderate economic growth.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000 for the week ended May 2, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were unrevised at 262,000, which was the lowest reading since April 2000.
Claims have been below 300,000 for nine weeks. That threshold is usually associated with a strengthening labor market. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 280,000 last week.
A Labor Department analyst said there was nothing unusual in the state-level data. The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 4,250 last week to 279,500, the lowest since May 2000.
The data has no bearing on Friday's employment report for April as it falls outside the survey period.