US jobless claims rise; continuing claims lowest since 2000

Job seekers speak with recruiters during a career fair at San Francisco State University, April 3, 2015.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but the underlying trend continued to point to a strengthening labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 294,000 for the week ended April 11, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

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Claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 280,000 last week. A Labor Department analyst said there was nothing unusual in the state-level data.

Claims tend to be volatile around this time of the year because moving holidays like Easter and the school spring break can throw off the model that the government uses to smooth the data for seasonal fluctuations.

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The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, ticked up 250 to 282,750 last week. Claims below 300,000 are associated with a strengthening labor market.

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The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 40,000 to 2.27 million in the week ended April 4.

That was the lowest reading since December 2000 and suggested more long-term unemployed are getting jobs.