U.S. jobless claims decline to a five-week low of 234,000

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(Bloomberg) — Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits declined to a five-week low, highlighting a resilient job market, a Labor Department report showed Thursday.

Key Points

  • Jobless claims slumped by 25,000 to 234,000 (forecast was 250,000) in the week ended April 1
  • Weekly decline was biggest since April 2015; prior week revised to 259,000 from 258,000
  • On an unadjusted basis, applications slumped in California, New York and Pennsylvania — more than reversing the prior week’s increases for these states
  • The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits dropped by 24,000 to 2.03 million in the week ended March 25 (data reported with one-week lag)

Claims are hovering near the lowest level since the early 1970s, indicating employers remain reluctant to reduce staff amid steady demand and a shortage of workers with relevant skills and experience. Economists consider weekly filings below 300,000 as consistent with a healthy labor market. The data, which have been volatile lately, come a day before the monthly payrolls report that is projected to show the addition of 180,000 workers in March following a 235,000 advance the prior month.

Other Details

  • Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, fell to 250,000 from 254,500 in the prior week
  • The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.5%
  • Claims last week were estimated for Louisiana
  • There was nothing unusual in the broader data, according to the Labor Department
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