The Labor Department reported Thursday that weekly jobless benefits rose less than expected and remained near pre-recession levels. First-time claims for state unemployment benefits increased by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000 for the week ending on April 12.
That number stayed significantly close to a 6-1/2 year low touched the prior week. Meanwhile, claims for the week ending on April 5 were revised to show 2,000 more applications received than the Labor Department initially reported.
While the number did rise, overall, economists polled by Reuters had forecast315,000 first-time applications for jobless benefits.
In what is thought to be a far better indicator of the labor market, the four-week moving average for new claims fell 4,750 to 312,000, which is the lowest level since October of 2007.
An analyst at the Labor Department said there were no states estimated this time around, and that there were no special factors that could have influenced the state data for better or worse.
Data on job openings, the duration of unemployment and short-term unemployment, do suggest a degree of tightening in the labor market. But job growth averaged about 195,000 per month in February and March, and the headlien unemployment rate held steady at 6.7 percent, though the real, unadjusted unemployment rate is far higher.
The Labor report found that the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell by 11,000 to a still high 2.74 million in the week ending on April 5. Yet, this was the lowest level since December of 2007.