By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — The number of people filing initial claims for jobless benefits rose unexpectedly last week, signaling that the improvement in labor market trends remains uneven despite the reopening of large swathes of the economy.
The Labor Department said people filed initial jobless claims last week, up from 658,000 the previous week. The latter figure, which was already the lowest since the pandemic started destroying jobs a year ago, was revised down by 26,000.
Analysts had expected a marginal decline in initial claims to 680,000.
The number of those making continuing claims, which is compiled with a one-week lag to the initial claims data, fell to .
Millions more remain on other, pandemic-related insurance programs. The overall number of people claiming under all unemployment-related programs – collated parallel to the continuing claims series – resumed its longer-term decline in the week through March 13. It fell by over 1.5 million to 18.21 million.
The numbers suggest that layoffs are still running at a historically high level, despite evidence of a sharp improvement in hiring trends through mid-March. Private-payroll processor ADP said on Wednesday that the economy added 517,000 jobs in March, nearly three times the February number, as various states relaxed pandemic-driven restrictions that have mainly hit labor-intensive service industries.
The government’s more authoritative labor market survey is due to be released on Friday. Analysts expect total nonfarm payrolls to have risen by 647,000. The ADP and government numbers have shown a much lower correlation during the pandemic than before it.
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