The number of Americans on jobless rolls stayed close to a five-year low last week, with first-time claims for unemployment benefits falling more than forecast, signaling a strengthening labor market. The decline of 10,000 claims in the week ended April 15 to 303,000 was reported by the Labor Department, while the less volatile four-week average dropped to 305,250, the lowest since February 25.
As the demand stays strong, companies are reluctant to trim their workforces, since unemployment rates are at their lowest since 2001 making it more difficult to find qualified employees.
Jobless claims were expected to fall to 308,000 last week, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 28 economists, with estimates from the group ranging from 300,000 to 330,000. People continuing to collect state benefits rose to 2.439 million in the week ended April 8 from 2.421 million, the lowest since January 2001. The four-week average was the lowest since February 3, 2001, at 2.439 million people.