US applications for jobless benefits fell by less than than expected last week but nevertheless remained at a level which is associated with a healthy labor market, government data has shown. Some 258,000 Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended March 25, down 3,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 261,000, according to data published by the Department of Labor on Thursday. The number of claims filed was higher than expectations from economists polled by MarketWatch for 247,000 claims, but nevertheless remained below 300,000 – a threshold level seen as indicative of a healthy labor market.
The four-week moving average of initial claims filed stood at 254,250, marking an increase of 7,750 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 246,500.
Broken down by geography, the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending March 18 were in Ohio, up by 4,205, Kansas, 2,313 higher, Missouri, up by 2,241 and New Jersey, 1,019 higher. The largest decreases, by contrast, were in California, with 4,764 fewer claims, New York, down by 1,556 and Texas, 759 lower.