WASHINGTON (4/18/14)--After initial jobless claims fell to a 7-year low last week, claims inched up by 2,000 this week to 304,000, according to numbers released by the Labor Department Thursday (Economy.com April 17).
Though, with analysts actually expecting a higher increase in claims, the data supports a pervading belief that, while still fairly weak, the job market is strengthening.
"Claims are suggesting a net pick-up in employment relative to last year's average," Jim O'Sullivan, High Frequency Economics' U.S. chief economist wrote (MarketWatch.com April 17).
Added analysts from RDQ Economics: "The jobless claims data also suggest the labor market may be making progress toward the Fed's labor market objective more quickly than many policymakers expect."
The four-week moving average fell to 312,000 from 316,750, and continuing claims for those who apply for unemployment benefits for at least a second straight week fell 11,000 to 2.74 million for the week ending April 5.
Analysts say the data also shows a downward trend in the rate of layoffs, compounding stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that revealed that the layoff-rate sits at an all-time low for the survey used, which dates back to 2000 (Economy.com April 17).
The number of hires continues to rise, but only at a slow pace, as they have only reached mid-2008 levels.
Moody's analysts expect the unemployment rate to bottom at 6.3% at year's end, with monthly job gains above 250,000 per month by that point and just below 300,000 per month by the middle of 2015.