Initial claims for state unemployment benefits ticked up 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000 for the week ended April 12, the Labor Department said on Thursday, but stayed close to a 6-1/2 year low touched the prior week.
Economists had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits rising to 315,000. The four-week moving average for new claims, which irons out week-to-week volatility, hit its lowest level since October 2007.
In a separate report, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index increased to 16.6 this month from 9.0 in March. April’s reading was the highest in seven months and beat economists’ forecasts for only a rise to 10.0.
A reading above zero indicates expansion in the region’s manufacturing, which covers eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. There was a surge in new orders and shipments. Factory employment also increased and workers put in more hours than they did in March.