Fewer Americans than forecast file for unemployment benefits

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Fewer Americans than forecast filed for unemployment benefits last week, with applications hovering just above a four-decade low, a Labor Department report showed Thursday.

Key Points:

· Jobless claims decreased by 1,000 to 234,000 (forecast was 245,000) in the week ended April 8
· The prior week’s reading was revised to 235,000 from 234,000
· The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits dropped by 7,000 to 2.03 million in the week ended April 1 (data reported with one-week lag)

Big Picture

The current level of claims is the lowest since they reached a 44-year low of 227,000 in the week ended Feb. 25. Applications for jobless benefits remain firmly entrenched in a downtrend since breaking below the 300,000 level in March 2015, consistent with a tightening labor market that’s put a premium on experienced workers and shows employers are still unwilling to pare headcounts.

Other Details:

· Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, fell to 247,250 from 250,250 in the prior week
· The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.5 percent
· Louisiana was the only state that estimated claims last week
· There was nothing unusual in the broader data, according to the Labor Department