Initial jobless claims edged up 0.7% to 304,000 for the week ending April 12, according to a Labor Department report released today.

After dropping a revised 9% to pre-recession levels the previous week, this newest report keeps the labor market in solid territory. Analysts had expected an increase, but their prediction of 312,000 initial claims proved overly pessimistic. 


Source: Author, data from Labor Department. 

From a more long-term perspective, a 1.5% decline in the four-week moving average to 312,000 initial claims shows consistent strength for U.S. employment. That number is the lowest four-week average since October 2007, just two months before the Great Recession started. Both the latest week's claims and the four-week average fall significantly below 400,000, a cutoff point that economists consider a sign of an improving labor market.

On a state-by-state basis, only California and Iowa recorded a decrease of more than 1,000 initial claims for the week ending April 5 (most recent available data). California's 13,890-initial-claim drop was due primarily to fewer services layoffs, while Iowa tipped its hat to fewer manufacturing layoffs for its 1,270 dip. 

For the same period, nine states registered increases of more than 1,000 initial claims. Michigan made the biggest jump, up 4,290 as the wholesale trade industry increased layoffs. Pennsylvania's 2,340 increase put it in second place. The state cited construction, administrative and support, and manufacturing layoffs for its initial-claims hike. 

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report. link

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