WASHINGTON: New claims for US unemployment insurance were little changed last week, appearing to settle back to last year’s level after a few sharply higher weeks, possibly related to severe weather.
The Labor Department said Thursday that jobless claims, an indicator of the pace of layoffs, totaled 291,000 in the week to March 14, compared
to 290,000 the previous week.
The four-week moving average was 304,750, due to two high claims weeks in February. That compared to 329,500 a year ago.
“The jump in claims in late February appears to have been due to weather effects, not a change in the trend,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief
US economist at High Frequency Economics.
Analysts said the trend should fall back below the 300,000 level in the coming weeks.
“A sub-300,000 trend in claims implies continued strong employment growth and no let-up in the downtrend in the unemployment rate,” said O’Sullivan.