US weekly jobless claims increase slightly

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The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits increased moderately last week, suggesting that the labour market remains solid, even if the economy slows down.

First claims to state unemployment benefit rose to 3,000 seasonally adjusted 215,000 for the week ended May 25, the Ministry of Labour said Thursday. The data for the previous week were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected an increase to 215,000 last week. The labor Department said claims for California, Delaware, Kansas, Virginia, and Puerto Rico were estimated to be in the last week, since Monday’s Memorial Day holiday.

The four-week moving average of initial applications, which is seen as a better measure of labour market development as it blurs volatility from week to week, fell to 216,750 last week.

The continued strength of the labour market is underpinned by signs that the economy is slowing down in the first quarter after a temporary increase due to volatile exports and stocks. Industrial production, durable goods orders, retail and housing sales declined in April.

The Atlanta Federal Reserve expects GDP growth of 1.3 percent in the second quarter. The economy grew in the January-March quarter at an annualised rate of 3.1%.

The claims report from Thursday showed that the number of people, the benefits after an initial week of aid received, to 26,000, up from 1.66 million for the 18. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims fell by 3,500 to 1.67 million.

Data on persistent claims extended to the period during which households were asked about the unemployment rate in May. The four-week average of continued claims fell by 15,000 between April and May, suggesting a slight change in the unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate fell by two-tenths of a percentage point in April to 3.6 per cent, the lowest level in almost 50 years.