Economic Report: U.S. jobless benefit claims move higher for second straight week


The numbers: Initial jobless benefit claims filed through the states rose 16,000 to 744,000 in the week ended April 3, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Weekly claims averaged around 220,000 in the year before Covid-19’s arrival.

Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had forecast new claims would fall to 694,000.

Claims were revised up to 728,000 in the prior week from the prior estimate of 719,000.

Another 151,752 applications for benefits were filed last week through a temporary relief program.

What happened: New claims rose sharply in California and New York. There were more modest declines in Ohio and Texas.

The number of people already collecting the traditional unemployment benefit declined by 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.09 million in the week ended March 27. This is the lowest level in a year.

An additional 5.6 million people who have exhausted state compensation were getting extra benefits through an emergency program funded by the federal government.

Taken together 18.2 million people were collecting benefits from eight separate state and federal programs as of March 20.

By contrast, fewer than 2 million Americans were getting benefits before the pandemic erupted.

The big picture: Despite the recent tick-up, claims are expected to continue to trend lower as the economy reopens and more Americans are vaccinated. Employers added 916,000 workers in March, the Labor Department said last Friday.

Market reaction: Stocks



looked set to open higher Thursday as equity benchmarks continue to be at or near record highs. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note

fell slightly after the claims data.

Note to readers: A government review found the number of distinct individuals collecting benefits has been inflated by fraud and double counting.

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