The number of Americans filing new applications for claiming unemployment benefits increased less than expected last week, while the four-week moving average of jobless claims stuck its lowest level since 2000, signaling an abrupt slowdown in the pace of job growth in March was possibly a fluke.
The US Labor Department report on Thursday showed that the initial applications for claiming state unemployment benefits surged 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 281,000 for the week that ended April 4.
According to the Labor Department, it was the fifth consecutive week that the jobless claims remained below 300,000.
Several economists have made predictions that the claims will rise to 285,000 last week.
US Treasury debt yields increased on the data, while Greece’s 450 million euro loan payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) slashed the safety bids for the debt of the government. The stocks at the Wall Street edged up at the open and the US dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies.
The job growth slowed down sharply last month, with the nonfarm payrolls rising by just 126,000, putting an end to a 12-month stretch of gains in employment above 200,000.
The activity has been badly hit by harsh winter conditions. It is expected to have slashed as much as seven-tenths of a percentage point from the growth during the first-quarter.
Moreover, the softer global demand, a stronger American dollar and recently-settled West Coast port dispute have weighed on the US economy.
The four-week moving average of claims dropped 3,000 to 282,250 last week. This is the lowest level recorded since June 2000.
The Federal Reserve Bank has been keeping a hawk’s eye on the trends of the jobs market as it contemplates increasing rates of interest this year.