U.S. jobless claims plunged sharply last week to their lowest level in nearly seven years as the economy rebounds from a weather-induced slump.
Applications for unemployment benefits declined 32,000 to 300,000 in the week ended April 5, reported the Labor Department on Thursday. This is the weakest since May 2007, just before the global recession began at the end of 2007.
“It’s collaborating with the other signals we have been seeing, which is the jobs market is slowly improving. Some of the drop is normalizing from this winter’s depressive effect,” Ryan Sweet, a West Chester, Pennsylvania-based senior economist at Moody’s Analytics told Reuters.
Economists had predicted new jobless claims to fall to 320,000 in the week ending April 5. Retrenchments and firings are declining, while hiring is surging after being slowed down by the harsh winter weather that rocked much of North America in December and January.
The average job growth per month was 195,000 in February and March, with unemployment rate holding steady at 6.7 percent, its lowest in nearly five years. The four-week moving average for fresh jobless claims, viewed as the best measure of labor market condition as it smoothens out weekly volatility, plunged to 316,250 in the week ending April 5, a decline 4.750 from last week.
The number of people still on jobless benefits plunged 62,000 to 2.78 million in the week that ended March 29, the lowest in more than 6 years since January 2008.
Separately, the Labor Department announced that U.S. import prices rose 0.6 percent in March after earlier surging 0.9 percent the previous month. This surpassed the median forecast of an increase of 0.2 percent in a Reuters survey of economists.
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