US jobless claims rise but at historic low

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Washington (AFP)

New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits rose last week but the long-running trend remains historically low, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, rose by 11,000 to 276,000 in the week ending March 26. There were no special factors impacting the data, the department said.

That marked the 56th straight week that claims have held below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973, pointing to a tightening labor market amid solid job growth.

The four-week moving average, which helps to smooth week-over-week volatility, rose by 3,500 to 263,250. A year ago it was 282,250.

"The trend continues to run well below 300,000 and is consistent with solid gains in monthly nonfarm employment," said Ryan Sweet, analyst at Moody's Analytics.

The claims data came ahead of Friday's March jobs report. Analysts expect the unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent, an eight-year low, and the economy added 200,000 jobs.