The number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits dropped for a fourth straight week, a sign that employers are retaining more workers as the economy expands.
Initial jobless claims fell by 4,000 to 444,000 in the week ended May 8, higher than the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The number of people receiving unemployment insurance increased and those getting extended payments fell.
Employers seeing improved sales and profits have added workers to payrolls in each of the last four months, signaling greater confidence in the recovery. Unemployment may take time to retreat as the number of jobseekers entering the workforce exceeds available jobs.
“Businesses seem to be proceeding with caution,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Economy.com Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “The labor market is moving in the right direction. Claims haven’t fallen as quickly as would be suggested by the non-farm payrolls.”
Jobless claims were projected to drop to 440,000 from 444,000 initially reported for the prior week, according to the median forecast of 51 economists in a Bloomberg survey. Estimates ranged from 425,000 to 450,000. The level of claims is the lowest in six weeks.
The decline is miniscule, and the total number of new claims remains well above the levels of several years ago, which is why the employment rate is not falling (suggesting the rise in the stock market is due to the government bailing out banks with printed money, and not evidence of a recovery).