Weekly jobless claims jumped up from their 7-year low the week prior, as initial claims for unemployment benefits rose 28,000 to 326,000 for the week ended May 17.
The prior week saw the lowest number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits since May 2007 and brought claims back to a level last seen before the deep 2007-09 recession. While some economists point to the cumulative reduction as evidence of a stronger jobs market, one measurement in Thursday’s Labor Department report may be a bad sign regarding the upcoming monthly employment report for May.
Even though Thursday’s weekly jobless claims data falls within the survey week for the employment report’s gauge of hiring in the economy, and the four-week moving average of new jobless claims rose about 3 percent from the same week in April. The rolling average is widely considered as a less-volatile gauge of the current labor conditions than the weekly numbers.
That data shows less job creation likely occurred this month, though hiring in April was stronger-than-usual in the Obamaeconomy. Nonfarm payrolls increased 288,000 in April. Economists expect job gains to average roughly 200,000 for the rest of the year, far below the needed amount to keep pace with population and return discouraged workers to the labor force. Until given incentive, many will remain on disability and other government programs.
The four-week average increase 10,500 from the week of April 12, and was down just 1,000 from the week of May 10.
Unlike typical recent reports, the Labor Department said there were no special factors affecting Thursday’s data, no qualifying of the bad data. Claims for the week ended May 10 were revised to show 1,000 more new applications received than previously reported.
The data exceeded the number expected from economists polled by Reuters. They forecast first-time applications for jobless aid ticking up to 310,000 last week.
The report also showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 13,000 to 2.65 million in the week ended May 10.