Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending April 12 was 304,000, rising 2,000 from the previous week's number, according to data released by the Labor Department. The four-week average, which evens out volatility, was at 312,000, its lowest since October 2007, two months before the recession began.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected 315,000 new claims last week. Many economists consider weekly jobless claims below 400,000 a sign of stable job growth and an improving labor market.
Jobless claims, along with employment rates and job openings have begun to show promise after volatility during the winter months. But long-term unemployment remains a worrying factor and quitting levels are still below pre-recession levels.
The number of continuing claims for benefits, those drawn by workers for more than a week, decreased by 11,000 to 2,739,000 for the week ended April 5, the lowest its been since December 2007. Continued claims are reported with a one-week lag.