The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to the lowest level in almost seven years, which could bolster views of an acceleration in job growth after a cold winter dampened hiring.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 32,000 to a seasonally adjusted 300,000 for the week ended April 5, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was the lowest level since May 2007, before the start of the 2007-09 recession.
“It’s collaborating with the other signals we have been seeing, which is the jobs market is slowly improving. Some of the drop is normalizing from this winter’s depressive effect,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
U.S. stock index futures trimmed losses after the claims data. The dollar pared losses against the yen, while U.S. Treasury debt prices gave up some gains.
Economists had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits falling to 320,000 for the week ended April 5.
Layoffs are trending lower and hiring is regaining some momentum after being held back by unusually cold weather, snow and ice storms in December and January.
Job growth averaged about 195,000 per month in February and March, with the unemployment rate holding at near a five-year low of 6.7 percent over that period.
The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of underlying labor market conditions as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell to 316,250 in the week ended April 5, down 4,750 from the previous week.
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