The number of people filing new applications for U.S. unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, but jobless claims remain near 7-year lows as the underlying trend continues to point to a strengthening labor market, the government reported Thursday.
The Labor Department said jobless claims increased 8,000 to 312,000 last week. The four-week moving average of claims—a better measure of labor-market trends because its smoothes weekly volatility—fell to 310,250, the lowest average since June 2007.
Meanwhile, fewer people are receiving U.S. unemployment benefits. The number of recipients declined to 2.6 million last week, the lowest level since October 2007.
The decline in jobless claims since the beginning of the year has been accompanied by solid job growth, despite an economy that actually shrank during the first quarter. Still, the pace of hiring has been steady and has accelerated this spring.
Employers added 288,000 jobs in April, the most in more than two years. In the first four months of 2014, employers have added an average of 214,000 jobs a month, up from 194,000 a month last year.
The Labor Department issues its May jobs report on Friday. Economists expect 220,000 jobs were created last month.