The number of applications filled by the Americans to make new claims for unemployment benefits increased marginally last week, signaling that the US labor market remained stronger despite a slowdown in the economic growth.
The initial claims for state unemployment benefits surged 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 291,000 for the week that ended on March 14, according to the Labor Department report released on Thursday. The surge in jobless claims was broadly in line with the expectations of the economists.
The output has met a slowdown in the first quarter due to several factors ranging from a strong dollar, harsh winter, a recently settled West Coast ports labor dispute and weaker overseas growth and mostly transitory factors that is expected to fade by the second quarter.
Acknowledging the moderation in economic growth, the Federal Reserve Bank on Wednesday signaled an increase in interest rate anytime after June and dropping the reference to being “patient” from its monetary policy statement. The American central bank maintained its upbeat view of the labor market.
The four-week moving average of unemployment claims, which is considered as a better measure of showing labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, surged 2,250 to 304,750 last week.
The jobless claims data covered the period during which the government had surveyed the employers for preparing the nonfarm payrolls report for March.
The four-week moving average of claims increased 21,750 during the survey periods between February and March, indicating a payroll growth could ease a bit after the robust gain reported last month.
The US economy added 295,000 more jobs in the month of February, with the unemployment rate falling to over 6-1/2 years low of 5.5 percent.
The claims report of Thursday showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 11,000 to 2.42 million in the week that ended on March 7.