First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits saw a modest decrease in the week ended April 2nd, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report showed initial jobless claims dipped to 166,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 171,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 200,000 from the 202,000 originally reported for the previous week.
“The low reading was the result of a revision to seasonal adjustment factors, which produced a level shift down in claims in recent weeks averaging 30k,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
She added, “We expect initial claims to remain well below 200k as employers, who continue to struggle to attract and retain workers, will keep layoffs to a minimum.”
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also slipped to 170,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 178,000.
Meanwhile, the report showed continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, rose by 17,000 to 1.523 million in the week ended March 26th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims still fell to 1,541,250, a decrease of 35,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,576,500.
The Labor Department noted that beginning with this week’s data, the methodology used to seasonally adjust the national initial claims and continued claims reflects a change in the estimation of the models.
Last Friday, a more closely watched report from the Labor Department showed U.S. employment increased by less than expected in the month of March.
The report showed non-farm payroll employment jumped by 431,000 jobs in March after surging by an upwardly revised 750,000 jobs in February.
Economists had expected employment to spike by 490,000 jobs compared to the addition of 678,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
While the job growth in March fell short of estimates, revisions to data for the two previous months showed employment increased by 95,000 more jobs than previously reported.
The Labor Department said notable job gains continued in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and manufacturing.
The strong job growth still contributed to a drop in the unemployment rate, which dipped to 3.6 percent in March from 3.8 percent in February. The unemployment rate was expected to edge down to 3.7 percent.
With the bigger than expected decrease, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since hitting 3.5 percent in February of 2020.
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