The number of people who applied last week for new unemployment benefits appeared to stabilize after a pair of large swings, reflecting a status-quo labor market in which companies are only gradually hiring new workers. Initial jobless claims rose by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 352,000 in the week ended April 13, the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Despite the increase last week, which was broadly in line with economists’ expectations, claims held near a level economists normally associate with average monthly job gains of more than 150,000. That helped to further ease concerns of a deterioration in labor market conditions after nonfarm payrolls in March posted their smallest increase in nine months.
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