Initial jobless claims jumped by 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 329,000 in the seven days ended April 19, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the highest level since the end of March.
Economists had expected claims to rise to 315,000 from a slightly revised 305,000 in the prior week.
Claims often rise around Easter because the holiday falls on different dates each year and that makes it harder for the government to conduct seasonal adjustments.This marks the fifth year in a row in which the reading for the week including Good Friday posted a rise of close to 20,000.
The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, rose by 4,750 to 316,750. Yet just one week ago, the monthly average fell to a six-and-a-half-year low.
The monthly claims figure smooths out the variations in the weekly data and offers a better look at the underlying trend, which has moved lower since late last year. Companies are laying off far fewer workers than they were several years ago and that’s helped increase the number of people with jobs despite a relatively modest pace of new hiring.
The government said continuing claims decreased by 61,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.68 million in the week ended April 10. That’s the lowest level since December 2007, when the Great Recession started. Continuing claims reflect the number of people already receiving benefits.Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up slightly to 305,000 from 304,000