Jobless claims increased by 2,000 to 304,000 in the week ended April 12 from a revised 302,000 the prior period that was the lowest since September 2007, a Labor Department report reported April 17.
The median forecast of 47 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for an increase to 315,000. The total number of people receiving benefits fell to the lowest since the last recession began.
Dismissals are on the decline as companies, already lean from recession-era job cutting, gear up for rising sales as the economy strengthens.
“Not only have you had a slowdown in layoffs, but also the total number of people on state benefit rolls has fallen,” said Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale. “The labor market is getting better.”
The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, dropped to 312,000, the lowest since October 2007, from 316,750 the week before.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits declined by 11,000 to 2.74 million in the week ended April 5, the fewest since December 2007.