Jobless claims hover near 15-year low, boost growth outlook

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Jobseekers stand in line to attend the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. career fair held by the New York State department of Labor in New York April 12, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Jobseekers stand in line to attend the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. career fair held by the New York State department of Labor in New York April 12, 2012.   REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

BY LUCIA MUTIKANI

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits held near a 15-year low last week in a sign that the labor market was strengthening despite moderate economic growth.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000 for the week ended May 2, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was well below the increase to 280,000 that economists had forecast.

Claims for the prior week were unrevised at 262,000, which was the lowest reading since April 2000. The sustained strength suggests March’s sharp step down in job growth was likely an aberration, and could keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates this year.

“This provides support that March’s weakness was temporary and it underpins expectations that nonfarm hiring will rebound in April and continue to post healthy rates of job growth in the coming months,” said Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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