News

Jobless rates hover at near pre-recession levels

Jobless rates hover at near pre-recession levels

JOBLESS:Corporate recruiters (R) gesture and shake hands as they talk with job seekers at a Hire Our Heroes job fair targeting unemployed military veterans and sponsored by the Cable Show, a cable television industry trade show. Photo: Reuters

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New applications for unemployment benefits held near their pre-recession levels last week, offering further evidence of the economy’s underlying strength.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits ticked up 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000 for the week ended April 12, the Labor Department said on Thursday. They stayed close to a 6-1/2 year low touched the prior week.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits rising to 315,000.

U.S. Treasury yields hit session highs on the data, while stock index futures and the dollar were little changed.

The four-week moving average for new claims, considered a better measure of underlying labor market conditions as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 4,750 to 312,000, the lowest level since October 2007.

A Labor Department analyst said no states were estimated and there were no special factors influencing the state level data.

The claims data covered the survey week for April nonfarm payrolls. Despite last week’s increase, claims were down 19,000 between the March and April survey periods, which suggests an acceleration in job growth.

Job growth averaged about 195,000 per month in February and March, with the unemployment rate holding at near a five-year low of 6.7 percent over that period.

Labor market indicators such as job openings, the duration of unemployment and short-term unemployment, suggest some tightening in conditions.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said it was “quite plausible” the economy would be back to near full employment by the end of 2016.

The economy is gaining traction after being held down by an unusually cold and snowy winter. Retail sales and industrial production have been robust. Employment has picked up and there is a bit of inflation in the economy.

The health of the labor market will most likely determine when the U.S. central bank will start raising benchmark interest rates, which it has kept near zero since December 2008.

The Fed is expected to conclude its monthly bond buying program later this year and most economists expect the first rate hike will be in the second half of 2015.

The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 11,000 to 2.74 million in the week ended April 5. That was the lowest level since December 2007.

(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

NHL Playoffs: Islanders beat Capitals 3-1 to force Game 7

Fresh
New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano yells at his players during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul, Minn., Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. The Wild won 5-4.

The Capitals will host the deciding game Monday night.

in Sports

NBA Playoffs: Nets beat Hawks 91-83, pull within 2-1 in series

Fresh
A logo for the NBA playoffs and official basketballs are seen on the court prior to Game 1 of an NBA basketball playoffs basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, Sunday, April 21, 2013, in San Antonio, Texas.

Brook Lopez had 22 points and 13 rebounds to lead Brooklyn. Nets host game 4 Monday.

in Local Sports

Paxton still looking for first win as M’s host Twins tonight

Seattle Mariners' James Paxton winds up to deliver to the San Diego Padres in the first inning of an exhibition baseball game, Friday Feb. 28, 2014, in Peoria, Ariz.

First pitch for tonight game is scheduled for 6:10pm. You can hear it all on KPUG 1170AM beginning at 5:00pm with the pre-game show.

in Local Sports

Calgary police say they’re ready to handle crowds for Game 6 of Flames-Vancouver

Updated
Saddledome in Calgary

The Canucks trail the best-of-seven series 3 games to 2. The puck drops at the Saddledome at 6pm.

in Sports

7 players from Royals, White Sox punished by MLB for brawl

Chicago White Sox's Jeff Samardzija, center, fights with Kansas City Royals players during the seventh inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 23, 2015, in Chicago.

The Royals-White Sox game on Saturday was rained out, meaning all suspensions will begin Sunday unless a player chooses to appeal.