Applications for US Jobless Aid Rise But Remain at Low Level

Paterniano Del Favero
Aprile 21, 2017

Advertisment New applications for US unemployment benefits gained slightly more than expected last week, but the number of Americans on unemployment rolls still dropped to a 17-year low, pointing to a tightening labour market.

For the week ended April 15, new applications for unemployment benefits rose 10,000 from the prior week to 244,000, seasonally adjusted.

Initial claims have been below the benchmark level of 300,000 for 111 weeks in succession with a very prolonged period of low claims.

Initial jobless claims increased to 244,000 in the week ending April 15th from 234,000 previously and the data was slightly above consensus forecasts of an increase to 242,000.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure of labor market trends, fell by 4,250 to 243,000 last week. The index has been positive for nine consecutive months and remains at a relatively high reading.

"The continued increase bodes well for continued strength in capex spending in coming months", said Kevin Cummins, senior USA economist at NatWest Markets in Stamford, Connecticut.

Firms reported an increase in manufacturing employment and workweek this month. The four-week moving average figure also shows an improvement in the March survey week.

The rise in applications likely is linked to volatility around this time of the year due to the different timings of spring and Easter holidays, which often throws off the model the government uses to smooth the data of seasonal fluctuations. Nonfarm payrolls increased by a seasonally adjusted 98,000 in March from the prior month, the Labor Department said, a slowdown from earlier in the year. This figure was below expectations of 2.02mn and the lowest figure since April 2000.

A low level of layoffs typically indicates steady employment growth.

Simons also points out that continuing claims hit a 17-year low of 1.979 million - the lowest level since April, 2000.

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