The number of people who filed new claims for jobless benefits held roughly steady last week, according to the seasonally adjusted numbers released by the Labor Department today. The report was bad news because it suggested that the rise in claims over previous weeks might not have been, as some optimists hoped, a statistical fluke caused by the timing of Easter.
Last week, 388,000 people filed an initial claim for unemployment insurance (again, according to the seasonally adjusted numbers, which is why the timing of holidays matters). That number was largely unchanged from 389,000 the prior week and 388,000 the week before. Three weeks earlier, though, only 362,000 people filed initial claims, which seemed to be a sign that the labor market was continuing to improve.