Jobless claims edge lower

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits declined last week, according to a government report, raising optimism that the job market recovery is gaining steam.

There were 388,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended March 26, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was down 6,000 from the previous week's revised 394,000.

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected initial claims to total 383,000 in the latest report.

The Labor Department said the latest report reflects the annual revision to the weekly unemployment claims for seasonal factors. Last week's total, for example, was revised up by 12,000.

"The revised data show a slightly less steep drop in claims over the past few months but the key point here is that the trend is still clearly downwards," said Ian Shepherdson, an economist at High Frequency Economics.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims, which smoothes out volatility in the measure, was 394,250. That was up 3,250 from the previous week's revised average of 391,000.

In addition to the decline in initial claims, the number of Americans filing for ongoing claims for unemployment benefits dropped 51,000 to 3,714,000 in the week ended March 19, the most recent week available.

The 4-week moving average of continuing claims was 3,765,250, down 32,750 from the week before.

On Wednesday, payroll processor ADP reported that private sector employment rose by 201,000 in March, while an outplacement firm said planned layoffs declined in the month.

Thursday's initial claims report comes one day before the government's monthly payrolls report, one of the most closely watched economic indicators on Wall Street.

A CNNMoney survey of 18 economists forecast an 180,000 jump in payrolls. They also expect the unemployment rate to hold steady at 8.9%.

Shepherdson said he expects the decline in initial claims to continue as access to credit becomes easier for businesses.

"The drop in claims has already been reflected in a clear acceleration in private payrolls in recent months, and we think there is more to come," he said. "The labor market recovery is gathering momentum." 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 17,191.37 -195.84 -1.13%
Nasdaq 4,637.99 -43.51 -0.93%
S&P 500 2,002.16 -27.39 -1.35%
Treasuries 1.72 -0.10 -5.53%
Data as of 8:45pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 115.31 6.17 5.65%
Bank of America Corp... 15.20 -0.43 -2.75%
Yahoo! Inc 46.46 -1.53 -3.19%
Microsoft Corp 41.19 -1.47 -3.45%
Facebook Inc 76.24 0.46 0.61%
Data as of 4:00pm ET

Sections

One of the in-flight catalog's vendors wants to buy the company's assets and reinvent it for the Internet age. More

Drone-maker DJI is planning a software update to prevent its drones from flying in downtown D.C. More

On demand delivery startup WunWun is expecting its order volume to double by the time they close up shop on Monday. All thanks to a blizzard. More

Orthopedic surgeons take home a median $410,000 in salary and bonus annually. What other great careers from CNNMoney and PayScale.com's list of Best Jobs in America offer hefty paychecks? 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: © 2015 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2015. 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 2015 and/or its affiliates.