A day ahead of the release of the closely watched monthly jobs report, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing a modest increase in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended March 26th.
The report showed initial jobless claims edged up to 202,000, an increase of 14,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 188,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 197,000 from the 187,000 originally reported for the previous week.
The figure originally reported for the previous week reflected the lowest number of jobless claims since September 1969.
“We expect initial claims to remain around 200k or lower as employers, who continue to struggle to attract and retain workers, are likely to keep layoffs to a minimum,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average slipped to 208,500, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 212,000.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also fell by 35,000 to 1.307 million in the week ended March 19th, hitting the lowest level since December 1969.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims also decreased by 40,500 to 1.389 million, dropping to the lowest level since February 1970.
On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched report on the employment situation in the month of March.
Economists currently expect the report to show employment jumped by 490,000 jobs in March after surging by 678,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate is expected to edge down to 3.7 percent from 3.8 percent.