Jobless Claims Drop to a Four-Week Low

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Initial jobless claims declined 11,000 to 448,000 for the week ending April 24, the U.S. Labor Department announced Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected jobless claims to total 447,000. The better than expected decline suggests that the labor market is slowly improving.

The four-week moving average increased 1,500 to 462,500, while continuing claims fell 18,000 to 4.65 million. A year ago, initial jobless claims totaled 623,000, the four-week moving average was at 627,000, and continuing claims totaled 6.21 million.

States reported 5.20 million persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits for the week ending April 10, the latest week for which data is available, a decrease of 146,641 from the prior week. A year ago, there were 2.29 million EUC claimants.

The largest increases in initial jobless claims for the week ending April 17, the latest week for which data is available, were in: Puerto Rico (+3,549); Iowa (+1,606); Georgia (+1,412); Connecticut (+768); and Florida (+422). The largest decreases were in New York (-21,010); California (-15,380); Pennsylvania (-4,512); Oregon (-4,317); and New Jersey (-3,777).

This week's report offered three encouraging highlights. First, a decent decline -- down 11,000 -- in jobless claims; a decrease in continuing claims; and large drops in jobless claims in New York and California. Historically, large weekly declines will surface and become more prevalent among states as job creation starts to gain traction. That's good news for the economic expansion: the pulse of the job market appears to quickening.
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