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Economic Watch: First Time Jobless Benefit Claims Plummet

April 10, 2014

By Evan Lockridge

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The number of Americans filing first-time jobless claims in the U.S. for the week ending April 5 posted its largest weekly decline since December 2012 with the lowest level of claims hit since March 2007.

It fell by 32,000 to 300,000, according to a new U.S. Labor Department report. Also the four-week average fell from 321,000 to 316,000, the lowest number since September.

 “A sizable drop in claims suggesting there could be marked improvement in the labor market in April,” is how Sterne Agee Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza described the report. “After the disappointing March employment report, this morning's jobless report, although a weekly number, certainly raises the bar of expectations for the April non-farm payroll number.”

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Recently released figures show 192,000 jobs in the U.S. were added in March, while the unemployment rate was unchanged form the month before at 6.7%.

The economic news follows the Federal Reserve on Wednesday releasing the minutes of its March 18 Open Market Committee meeting in which it determined economic growth slowed early this year, likely only in part because of the temporary effects of the unusually cold and snowy winter weather, while employment expanded and inflation remained under control.

“Manufacturing production was roughly flat, on balance, in January and February, in part because of the effects of the severe winter weather, which held down both motor vehicle output and production outside the motor vehicle sector,” said the Federal Reserve.

According to Piegza, the Fed gave no indication in changing its economic policies, which include tapering its monthly bond purchases to help stimulate economic activity, as long as the economy remains on firm footing.

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