The labor market continues to show signs of health according to the latest report on initial claims for jobless benefits.
The number of U.S. workers who applied for new unemployment benefits decreased by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000 in the week ended April 2, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Last week marked the fifty-seventh straight week that initial claims were below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973. It was also the first time in four weeks that claims have decreased.
“While some other gauges of the economy have painted a softer picture, various indicators of the labor economy have remained relatively strong,” Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors, told The Wall Street Journal. “Tightening labor market conditions are enticing workers who have been effectively sitting on the sidelines for some time to test the job waters.”
Economists surveyed by the WSJ had expected 268,000 new claims last week. Claims for the prior week were unrevised at 276,000.
The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 266,750, an increase of 3,500 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 263,250.
The total number of people claiming unemployment benefits in all programs for the week ending March 19 (the latest data) was 2,454,956, a decrease of 83,120 from the previous week, Labor said. There were 2,618,003 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2015.
Last week the Labor Department reported that total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 215,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 5%. Employment increased in retail trade, construction, and health care. Job losses occurred in manufacturing and mining.