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Applications for US jobless aid rise but remain at low level

Applications for US jobless aid rise but remain at low level

New claims for USA jobless benefits rose slightly in mid-April but the total number of people seeking unemployment insurance hit a 17-year low, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Initial unemployment claims for the week ending on 15 April jumped by 10,000 to reach 244,000, according to the Department of Labor. The four-week moving average initial claims dropped to 243k from 247k from the previous week. The four-week moving average declined to 2.024mn from 2.026mn previously and at the lowest level for close to 17 years.

The unemployment rate has also been on a downward trend since the beginning of 2017, dropping from 4.8 percent in January to 4.5 percent in March, Department of Labor statistics show.

The weekly claims figure has stayed below 300,000 for more than two years, the longest streak below that level since 1970.

U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data. The index has been positive for nine consecutive months.

Data on unemployment applications can be volatile from week to week.

Firms reported an increase in manufacturing employment and workweek this month. Data on continuing claims are released with a one-week lag.

So-called continuing jobless claims fell by 49,000 to 1.98 million, marking just the second time they've fallen below 2 million during the current eight-year-old economic expansion.

An acceleration in employment growth would confirm that March's moderation was weather-driven and underscore the economy's strong fundamentals despite indications that growth slowed to below a 1.0 per cent annualised rate in the first quarter.


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