Economists Shrug off Jump in Initial Claims

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The number of people initiating claims for unemployment benefits jumped unexpectedly last week, but not by enough to shake optimism that the economy’s recovery remains on track.

In the week ending March 27, there were 719,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance, an increase of 61,000 from the previous week’s revised total, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor Thursday. Economists expected 678,266 initial claims for the week, according to a median estimate cited by Moody’s Analytics.

The jump again put claims above 700,000, one week after the number fell below that threshold for the first time since the start of the pandemic. But the increase is nothing to be concerned about, economists say, as initial claims are unreliable from week to week. Other indicators have raised hopes that Friday’s Bureau of Labor Statistics employment report will reflect good news for the labor market. One measure, released Wednesday, showed that U.S. companies added more people to their payrolls in March than they had in six months.