WASHINGTON – New claims for U.S. jobless aid fell by 1,000 last week, but were higher than expected due to a partial government shutdown in Puerto Rico that added about 20,000 claims, the Labor Department reported on Thursday.
First-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits dipped to 324,000 in the week ended May 6 from an upwardly revised 325,000 claims the previous week.
Excluding claims related to the government shutdown in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, initial claims would have been closer to 300,000, a Labor Department analyst said. Government layoffs in Puerto Rico started May 1 because of a funding crisis.
Wall Street analysts had expected new claims to fall to 315,000 last week from an initially reported 322,000 the previous week.
The four-week moving average of new claims, which smooths volatile weekly data to provide a better picture of underlying labor market trends, rose to 317,250 last week, up 2,500.
The number of people who continued to collect jobless benefits after drawing an initial week of aid fell 49,000 to 2.392 million in the week ended April 29, the lowest since January 2001. That also was below Wall Street forecasts for 2.450 million in continued claims.