Jobless claims fell by 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000 in the week ended March 1, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists had expected claims to total 335,000.
Like other economic reports, jobless claims have been affected by bad weather. Two weeks ago, for example, claims suddenly spiked to the highest level since mid-December. And the lower level of claims last week “reflects the return to recent trend levels” the state of Oregon reported.
Bad weather disrupts reported claims by causing some people to wait to file their applications or forcing the closure of state unemployment offices. A backlog can develop and push claims temporarily higher before they eventually subside.
A better way to gauge the trend in claims is the four-week average that reduces the effects of weather and other unusual factors. The monthly average posted a much smaller decline of 2,000 to end up at 336,500, and it’s shown little change in 2014.
Also, the government said continuing claims decreased by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.91 million in the week ended Feb. 22. Continuing claims reflect the number of people already receiving benefits.
Initial claims from two weeks ago, meanwhile, were revised up to 349,000 from 348,000.