Unemployment Claims Take Unexpected Jump
Holidays and seasonal factors are being blamed for an unexpected jump in jobless claims last week.
The Labor Department said in its weekly report Thursday that initial claims for jobless benefits increased 18,000 to 460,000 for the week ended April 3. The previous week's level was revised upward to 442,000 from 439,000.
According to a Labor Department economist, who was the one who cited seasonal factors, such as Easter, the other contributing factor could have been the celebration of Cesar Chavez Day in California — a state big enough to move the national numbers. Easter occurs at a different time each year, potentially leading to inaccuracies in the seasonal factors used in the calculations.
The four-week moving average, which aims to smooth volatility in the data to gauge the underlying trend, rose 2,250 to 450,250 for the week ending April 3. In a more positive sign, however, total claims lasting more than one week fell to their lowest levels since Dec. 13, 2008.
The latest increase in jobless claims comes the week after the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls rose by 162,000 in March, the fastest pace in three years.
In the Labor Department's Thursday report, the number of continuing claims—those drawn by workers for more than one week—fell 131,000 to 4.55 million for the week ended March 27, down from the preceding week's revised level of 4.68 million.