Jobless Claims Rise

By Sarah Chaney and Eric Morath Features Dow Jones Newswires

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits increased last week, but remained at a low level indicative of steady job growth.

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Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., rose by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 257,000 in the week ended April 22, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 245,000 new claims last week. The figure for the prior week ended April 15 was revised to 243,000 from an original estimate of 244,000, which was the first increase in four weeks.

Jobless claims have stayed below 300,000 for 112 consecutive weeks, the longest such streak since 1970 -- when the U.S. workforce and population were much smaller than they are today.

Weekly claims data can be volatile. A more stable measure, the four-week moving average of initial claims, dropped by 500 last week to 242,250.

Continuing unemployment claims, reflecting benefits drawn by workers for longer than a week, increased by 10,000 to 1.99 million in the week ended April 15, the Labor Department said Thursday. Data on continuing claims are released with a one-week lag.

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The U.S. labor market started 2017 with solid job growth, but employers pulled back on hiring in March. Nonfarm payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 98,000 in March from the prior month, the Labor Department said, a slowdown from the beginning of the year. Still, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.5%, the lowest level since May 2007.

Write to Sarah Chaney at sarah.chaney@wsj.com and Eric Morath at eric.morath@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 27, 2017 08:51 ET (12:51 GMT)