WASHINGTON May 22 The number of Americans
filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week but
stayed close to a seven-year low and pointed to ongoing healing
in the labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 28,000
to 326,000 for the week ended May 17, the Labor Department said
The prior week saw the lowest reading since May 2007 and
brought claims back to a level last seen before the deep 2007-09
recession. Economists say the cumulative reduction in new claims
could point to stronger hiring, although one metric in
Thursday's report cast a shadow over the upcoming monthly
employment report for May.
Thursday's data falls within the survey week for the
employment report's gauge of hiring in the economy, and the
four-week moving average of new jobless claims rose about 3
percent from the corresponding week in April.
That might point to a weaker pace of job creation this
month, although this would not be that surprising because hiring
in April was unusually strong. Nonfarm payrolls increased
288,000 in April. Economists expect job gains to average 200,000
for the rest of the year.
The four-week average, which smooths out the often volatile
claims data, rose 10,500 from the week of April 12, and was down
1,000 from the week of May 10.
The Labor Department said there were no special factors
affecting Thursday's data. Claims for the week ended May 10 were
revised to show 1,000 more new applications received than
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time
applications for jobless aid ticking up to 310,000 last week.
The claims report showed the number of people still
receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 13,000 to
2.65 million in the week ended May 10.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Andrea Ricci)