NEW YORK — Unemployment claims in the United States edged upward by 1,000 to 291,000 in the week ending March 14, which was close to the market consensus of 293,000, following a revised 290,000 reading (was 289,000) in the previous week. These readings represent a solid improvement relative to the 313,000 and 325,000 claims recorded in the final two weeks of February, RBC Economics reported.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, which attempts to smooth out some of the weekly volatility in the measure, rose to 304,750 from 302,500 in the previous week. Continuing claims for the week ending March 7, 2015 fell by 11,000 to 2,417,000.
“Today’s initial claims reading was encouraging, because it retraced little of the substantial 35,000 decline seen in the prior week; however, the four-week moving average remained above 300,000 for a third consecutive week,” said Josh Nye, an RBC economist. “The latest reading coincided with the survey week of the March payroll employment report. In that respect, the moving average of 304,750 is well above the 283,000 average seen during the survey week of the February payroll report, which showed a strong 295,000 job gain in the month.
“On its own, this would point to significant moderation in employment growth in March, although it is worth noting that January’s 239,000 increase in payrolls coincided with a relatively high 307,000 moving average in initial claims,” he added. “Thus, while the latest initial claims reading points to a slowdown relative to February’s stronger than expected employment growth, it does not necessarily indicate an end to the 12-month streak of above-200,000 payroll gains that is currently underway.”
SOURCE: RBC Economics press release