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US Jobless Claims Rise Faster than Forecast

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US Jobless Claims Rise Faster than Forecast

US jobless claims rose more than expected last week, as layoffs increased after falling to a seven-year low earlier this month.

US jobless claims increased by 24,000 to 329,000 last week, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate of economists called for jobless benefits to rise to 310,000 in the week ended April 18.

The four-week moving average for initial claims increased from 312,000 to 316,750. The average level of jobless claims a year earlier was 354,750.

Initial jobless claims are used to gauge weekly layoffs in the labour market. There were no special factors impacting last week’s data, the Labor Department confirmed.

Continuing jobless claims decreased from 2.75 million to 2.68 million last week, the lowest since December 2007.

New applications for unemployment benefits have been gradually declining throughout the course of the recovery. Claims rose in late fall and early winter at the same time employers scaled back the pace of hiring. US employers added 213,000 payrolls in December and January combined. Employers added 389,000 payrolls in the next two months, a sign the labour market was recovering from the weather-induced slowdown.

Although layoffs rose faster than expected, the latest jobless figures reinforce the view the economy is improving modestly. As weekly claims continue to drift downward, the markets expect payrolls to gradually increase as the recovery deepens.

The Labor Department is scheduled to release April nonfarm payroll data at the end of next week.

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