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U.S. initial jobless claims rise modestly in April reversing March weakness

Initial jobless claims in the U.S. for the week ended 15 April increased by 10,000 to 244,000, consistent with consensus expectations of claims rising modestly to 240,000. The four-week moving average initial claims dropped to 243k from 247k from the previous week. The week ended 15 April is the survey week for the April employment report. The reading of 244,000 suggests a rebound over the March survey week that had recorded initial claims of 261k. The four-week moving average figure also shows an improvement in the March survey week.

The data for initial claims had softened modestly in March as compared with the previous month. This softness seems to have reversed as both the weekly claims data and the four-week moving average for the week ended 15 April are at the similar levels to the ones seen in the February survey week, noted Barclays in a research report.

Meanwhile, continuing claims dropped below 2 million for the second consecutive time in the recovery. For the week ended 8 April, continuing claims came in at 1.979 million, their lowest level since the week ended 27 May 2000. The insured jobless rate also dropped by one-tenth in the week to 1.4 percent, matching its lowest reading in the current recovery, stated Barclays.

In all, initial and continuing jobless claims data has not altered the picture of a healthy labor market in the U.S. According to Barclays, the March data suggests that labor market conditions were stable and the momentum decelerated.

“Since mid-2016, labor market conditions have improved steadily and are now in line with levels last reached in 2006-07. At the average monthly rate of improvement over the past two years, labor market conditions would return to the 2000 peak in about 18 months”, added Barclays.

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