Applications for U.S. jobless benefits declined last week to the lowest level in 15 years, showing employers view a first-quarter slowdown in the economy is probably temporary.
First-time filings for unemployment insurance fell by 34,000 to 262,000 in the week ended April 25, the lowest since April 15, 2000, a Labor Department report showed Thursday in Washington. The figure was smaller than the lowest projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
With job openings at a 14-year high and prospects for stronger growth after the first-quarter setback, companies are intent on maintaining headcounts. The level of firings is consistent the Federal Reserve’s view of sustained progress in the job market.
“Claims have been quite steady, remaining below this key level of 300,000,” Thomas Costerg, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in New York, said before the report. “The U.S. labor market is in good shape and has been quite resilient.”
The median forecast of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 290,000, with estimates ranging from 275,000 to 300,000. Claims in the prior week were revised to 296,000 from an initially reported 295,000.
The Labor Department, an agency spokesman said as the report was released to the press, estimated claims for Louisiana because of a storm-related power outage. The estimate was close to the actual figure reported later by the state, the spokesman said.
The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, declined to 283,750 from 285,000 in the prior week.