Jobless claims fall, labor market gradually improving

 Job seekers attend a career fair at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, January 6, 2011. Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar


Job seekers attend a career fair at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, January 6, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

WASHINGTON - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to moderate job growth despite slowing economic activity.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 3,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 345,000 last week.

A Labor Department analyst said no states had been estimated and there was nothing unusual in the state-level data. Last week's data included the Memorial Day holiday and claims typically fall around this time of the year.

The four-week moving average for new claims, which irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 4,500 to 352,500.

Although claims have been volatile in recent weeks, there is little in the numbers to suggest a shift in the moderate pace of job gains, even though the broader economy is struggling under the weight of higher taxes and deep government spending cuts.

Last week's data has no bearing on data the government will release on Friday on employment in May, given that it falls outside of the survey period for the monthly jobs tally.

Employers are forecast to have added 170,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, slightly up from April's 165,000 count, according to a Reuters survey of economists. The unemployment rate is seen holding at an almost 4-1/2 year low of 7.5 percent.

By Lucia Mutikani (Reuters) | Thu Jun 6, 2013 8:54am EDT reuters_logo

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