The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, indicating the labor market is reflecting slowing economic growth. Weekly jobless claims for state unemployment benefits increased 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 291,000 for the week ended March 14, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 292,000 last week.
Meanwhile, claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported, and a Labor Department analyst said there was nothing unusual in the state-level data.
The four-week moving average of claims, which is considered considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 2,250 to 304,750 last week. A 4-week average above 300,000 — particularly considering the small pool of eligible Americans left in the labor market — is concerning to those eyeing the quality of jobs created monthly and long-term unemployment.
The claims data covered the period during which the government surveyed employers for the March nonfarm payrolls report. The four-week moving average of claims rose 21,750 between the February and March survey periods.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced it was dropping the reference to being “patient” from its so-called forward guidance, and continued with an upbeat outlook on the labor market.
Thursday’s claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 11,000 to 2.42 million in the week ended March 7.