Jobless claims increased by 16,000 to 326,000 for the week ending March 29, marking a five-week high, after reaching a six-month low last month. The median forecast made by economists polled by Bloomberg expected 319,000 claims.
“Layoffs are still very, very low,” said Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “Claims are pointing toward an improvement in the job market. It’s evidence that the economy’s struggles this year were temporary.”
The Labor Department also revised its estimate from the previous week to 310,000 applications, the lowest since Sept. 7. Initial jobless claims are a gauge of whether the number of layoffs are increasing or decreasing and if the economy is producing jobs or not.
The average claims for the month rose 250 to 319,500, which is a better estimate of the job market as it smoothes out the choppiness of the weekly data. Low numbers in the past few weeks suggest the labor market is slowly recovering after a slow end to last year, partly due to the harsh winter weather.
The Labor Department said the number of continuing claims increased by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.84 million in the week ended March 22. Continuing benefits are reported with a one week lag.