Jobless claims down for 4th straight week

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter

NEW YORK ( -- The number of first-time filers for unemployment insurance fell last week for a fourth straight week, according to a weekly government report released Thursday.

There were 444,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended May 8, down 4,000 from an downwardly revised 448,000 the previous week, according to the Labor Department's weekly report. The number of claims is the lowest since the 442,000 reported in the week ended March 27.

The number of claims was slightly higher than expected. Economists surveyed by had expected new claims to fall to 440,000.

The downward trend in initial claims continues to show general improvement in the economy, and is consistent with monthly reports that show employers are starting to add jobs, said Michael Hanson, senior economist with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The government's latest monthly jobs report, released Friday, showed employers added 290,000 jobs in April, the best gain in four years.

The four-week moving average for weekly initial claims was 450,500, down 9,000 from the previous week. The Labor Department tracks the four-week moving average of the weekly figures, to smooth out the volatility of the measure.

Initial claims have been stuck in the mid- to upper 400,000s since November, but seem to be hitting some resistance once they drop around 450,000.

While the recent decline in the four-week average is encouraging, economists are really looking for the number to get below 400,000 to spur sustainable job growth, said Tim Quinlan, an economist with Wells Fargo Securities.

Quinlan said he expects to see gradual improvement in payrolls through the course of the year, but no dramatic increases in job growth until initial claims fall below 400,000.

Also showing some resistance, instead of a consistent trend, are continuing claims, the number tracking people who file for unemployment benefits for two weeks or more. The government said 4,627,000 people filed continuing claims in the week ended May 1, the most recent data available. That was up 12,000 from the preceding week, but overall is still much improved over the 6,389,000 continuing claims reported in the comparable week last year.

"If you just got laid off and trying to find a job, it's still a really difficult environment, and the climb in continuing claims tells us it's taking people a while to land their feet in a job," Quinlan said.

Standard unemployment benefits usually last 26 weeks. The continuing claims number does not include those who have moved into state or federal extensions, or people whose benefits have expired.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,081.81 57.64 0.32%
Nasdaq 4,786.71 21.29 0.45%
S&P 500 2,087.05 4.88 0.23%
Treasuries 2.29 0.03 1.51%
Data as of Dec 24
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 18.04 0.12 0.64%
Gilead Sciences Inc 92.34 2.89 3.23%
General Electric Co 25.71 -0.17 -0.66%
Cisco Systems Inc 28.57 0.32 1.13%
Apple Inc 112.22 -0.32 -0.28%
Data as of Dec 24


JetBlue is offering to fly police to New York for the funeral of slain NYPD officers and is working to have the family of one of the officers flown in from overseas. More

Cheap gas spreads with a half dozen states poised to join Missouri offering drivers gas for less than $2 a gallon. More

Illegal downloads of 'The Interview' topped 750,000 on BitTorrent this Christmas. More

According to data from Google Trends and GrubHub, Chinese food remains the most popular type of food order on Christmas. More

After losing their daughter to liver failure and getting hit with $200,000 in student loans, the Mason family is finally getting financial relief. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.