First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly came in unchanged in the week ended May 5th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report said initial jobless claims came in at 211,000, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised level. Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 218,000.
The four-week moving average of jobless claims still edged down to 216,000, a decrease of 5,500 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 221,500.
With the modest decrease, the less volatile four-week moving average fell to its lowest level since hitting 214,500 in December of 1969.
The Labor Department noted claims taking procedures in Puerto Rico and in the Virgin Islands have still not returned to normal.
Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, rose by 30,000 to 1.790 million in the week ended April 28th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims still fell to a more than 44-year low of 1,812,500, a decrease of 22,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,834,500.
Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing weaker than expected job growth in the month of April, although the unemployment rate still fell to its lowest level in over seventeen years.
The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment climbed by 164,000 jobs in April after rising by an upwardly revised 135,000 jobs in March.
Economists had expected employment to increase by 192,000 jobs compared to the addition of 103,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
Meanwhile, the report said the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in April after holding at 4.1 percent for six straight months. The unemployment rate had been expected to edge down to 4.0 percent.
With the bigger than expected decrease, the unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level since a matching rate in December of 2000.