With the more closely watched monthly jobs report looming, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing a modest increase in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended April 30th.
The report showed initial jobless claims rose to 200,000, an increase of 19,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 181,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 182,000 from the 180,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the bigger than expected uptick, jobless claims reached their highest level since hitting 209,000 in the week ended February 12th.
“Despite the increase, claims remain at levels that are consistent with extremely tight labor market conditions,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics. “With job openings and quits at a record high, employers will keep layoffs to a minimum.
She added, “Even as the economy slows in response to high inflation and rising interest rates, we expect employers will be more likely to slow the pace of hiring than to let go of workers.”
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also edged up to 188,000, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 180,000.
Meanwhile, the report showed continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, dipped by 19,000 to 1.384 million in the week ended April 23rd, hitting the lowest level since January 1970.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims also fell to a 52-year-low of 1,417,000, a decrease of 36,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,453,250.
“We think continued claims can decline from these revised levels as job growth continues and more workers return to the labor market,” Vanden Houten said.
On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched report on the employment situation in the month of April.
Economists currently expect employment to jump by 391,000 jobs in April after surging by 431,000 jobs in March, while the unemployment rate is expected to edge down to 3.5 percent from 3.6 percent.