Output slowed during the first three months of the year, undercut by a severe winter, a strong U.S. dollar, weaker growth overseas and a labor dispute now settled at ports on the West Coast. The factors were mostly transitory and should fade by sometime in the second quarter.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve acknowledged that growth had been moderate but maintained its positive view of the jobs market as well as signaling it was close to an increase in interest rates by saying it was patient form so-called forward guidance.
Initial claims for benefits for state unemployment increased 1,000 to 291,000 for the week that ended on March 14, said the Department of Labor on Thursday. The announced increase was in line broadly with expectations with economists.
Prices of Treasuries dipped as the dollar widened gains against the yen and euro following the data. U.S. Claims have gone up and down for much of this past winter as the severe weather caused filings to swing. However, through volatility, the trend stayed consistent with the jobs market strengthening.
The moving average of four week for claims, which is considered a better labor market measure of trends as it smoothes out the volatility of weekly filings, rose last week by 2,250.
The data on claims covered the time during which government surveyed many employers for the payrolls report for March, The moving average for four weeks was up 21,750 from the February to March reporting periods, which suggested the growth in payroll could ease up a bit after a robust gain last month.
The economy increased jobs during February by 295,000, with the rate of unemployment dropping to a low of over 6 ½ years to 5.5%. February was the 12th consecutive month employment gains were above 200,000, which is the longest run in over 21 years.