U.S. filings for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week to the highest in almost three months amid holidays that may have played a role in the increase, Labor Department figures showed April 5.
Highlights of Jobless Claims for the Week Ended March 31
• Jobless claims increased by 24,000 to 242,000 (estimated 225,000), highest since week ended Jan. 6.
• Continuing claims fell by 64,000 to 1.808 million in week ended March 24 (data reported with one-week lag); lowest since December 1973.
• Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, rose to 228,250 from prior week’s 225,250.
The timing of this week’s Easter holiday and spring breaks could have influenced the latest increase in claims. Seasonal adjustments tend to be more difficult around holidays, and claims remain near a 45-year low, indicating a persistent shortage of qualified workers is keeping employers reluctant to fire staff.
Weekly applications for jobless benefits have for three years held below 300,000, typically considered consistent with a healthy labor market.
The Labor Department’s monthly employment report, due April 6, is projected to show payroll gains slowed to a still-solid 185,000 in March and the unemployment rate ticked down to 4%, which would be a 17-year low. Steady job growth will help to sustain consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy.
• Prior week’s reading was revised to 218,000 from 215,000, erasing what was originally reported as a 45-year low.
• Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits was unchanged at 1.3%.
• Colorado and Maine had estimated claims last week, according to the Labor Department.
With assistance by Chris Middleton