After holding steady near record lows since the middle of January, initial jobless claims popped 24,000 higher to 242,000 and well beyond Econoday's high estimate. There are no special factors behind the jump but given that the reporting period, the week of March 31, falls outside the sample period of the monthly employment report, today's results are not likely to pull down expectations for strength in tomorrow's report.
In an offset, continuing claims fell a very sizable 64,000 to 1.808 million in the March 24 week which, however, also falls outside the sample period for the monthly employment report. The unemployment rate for insured workers is unchanged for a fifth straight week at a very low 1.3 percent.
Despite the headline rise for initial claims, unemployment claims remain solidly consistent with strong demand for labor.