Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits rose last week while total benefit rolls dropped to the lowest in 17 years, indicating the job market remains tight, a Labor Department report showed April 20.
• Jobless claims increased by 10,000 to 244,000 (forecast was 240,000) in the week ended April 15.
• The prior week’s reading was unrevised at 234,000.
• The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits declined by 49,000 to 1.98 million in the week ended April 8 (data reported with one-week lag); figure is smallest since April 2000.
Filings are hovering near a four-decade low as managers hold staff levels steady or boost them to keep up with an expanding economy.
Analysts will look at the latest claims data for clues to the April change in payrolls, because last week coincides with the survey week for the monthly employment report due May 5.
At the same time, year-to-year variation in the timing of the Easter holiday may affect the data. Jobless claims have been on a general downtrend during the expansion and broke below the 300,000 level in March 2015.
• Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, decreased to 243,000 from 247,250 in the prior week.
• The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits ticked down to 1.4% from 1.5%.
• Louisiana and Puerto Rico had estimated claims last week.
• There was nothing unusual in the broader data, according to the Labor Department.