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Kerry Cardoza/MEDILL

Initial jobless claims rose Thursday to 312,000, yet the four-week moving average is at its lowest level since June 2007.

Initial claims rise slightly while underlying trend shows improving job market

by Kerry Cardoza
Jun 5, 2014

Initial jobless claims rose Thursday to 312,000, according to a government report, yet the four-week moving average is at its lowest level since June 2007.

The seasonally adjusted reading, which reports data from the week ending May 31, showed an initial claims increase of 2.6 percent. The previous week's level was revised to 304,000 from 300,000, according to the Department of Labor.

Due to the volatility of the weekly number, the four-week moving average is considered a better indicator of employment trends. Some economists consider claims below 400,000 as a sign that the economy is improving.

The number of claims was slightly higher than the expectations of economists polled by Yahoo Finance, who forecasted initial claims of 310,000.

“These are levels we tend to see during robust economic expansions,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, in a video statement to Bloomberg. “The weekly jobless claims report of 312,000 layoffs shows an economy with declining slack in the labor market.”

The report also tracks the insured unemployment rate, which remained unchanged from the previous week at 2 percent. This seasonally adjusted rate for the week ended May 24 was 2.6 million, the lowest level since October 2007.

Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a report that analysis shows that the short-term unemployment rate is more important than the long-term in reflecting wage and inflation pressures. “The outlook for inflation is inextricably linked to the debate about the amount of slack in the economy,” he said.

Illinois was among the highest insured unemployment rates in the week ended May 17. It also had one of the largest decreases in initial claims, a drop of 1,407, for the week ended May 24.

The unemployment rate for May, which will be released by the Department of Labor on June 6, is expected to swell slightly to 6.4 percent, up from 6.3 percent the previous month.