WASHINGTON – The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell a smaller-than-expected 4,000 last week, but remained near levels last seen in February, government data showed on Thursday.
Initial filings for state unemployment insurance aid fell to 339,000 in the week ended April 14 from a slightly upwardly revised 343,000 for the previous week, the Labor Department said.
A department analyst said there were no special factors behind the drop in new claims.
During February, a hefty number of new claims were filed on the back of winter storms that struck various regions of the United States.
Analysts on Wall Street had expected claims, which provide a rough guide to the pace of layoffs, to fall to 323,000 in the latest week from the 342,000 initially reported for the April 7 week.
A four-week moving average of claims, which smooths weekly volatility to provide a better sense of underlying job-market trends, rose to 328,750 from 323,500 in the prior week.
The total number of unemployed still on the benefit rolls after drawing an initial week of aid rose for the second straight week, climbing 6,000 to 2.53 million in the week ended April 7, the latest period for which figures are available.