WASHINGTON (5/2/14)--Both jobless claims and planned layoffs rose in April, according to reports released Thursday, but analysts still have faith that the labor market is headed in a positive direction.
For the last week of April, jobless claims climbed by 14,000 to 344,000, mildly surprising analysts and pushing up the four-week moving average to 320,000, the highest number in about a month (Economy.com May 1).
Continuing claims, or those to file for unemployment for at least a second consecutive week, also spiked to 2.77 million from 2.67 million for the week ending April 19.
Economists don't appear to be alarmed.
"Expect a big drop next week," Ian Shepherdson, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist, told MarketWatch Thursday.
About 40,000 layoffs were announced in April, an increase of about 6,000 from March, according to Challenger, Gray and Christmas, an outplacement consultancy, with the most cuts planned for the retail and financial industries.
But the numbers are favorable compared to this time last year. Through the first four months of 2014, employers have announced 162,000 job cuts, a 12% reduction from levels in 2013.
"The pace of downsizing remains relatively low," John Challenger, chief executive at Challenger, Gray and Christmas, said in a press release in MarketWatch. "However, while the economy still has a lot of room for growth, it is unlikely that monthly layoffs will experience a precipitous decline."
Meanwhile, economists expect Friday's jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to reveal the addition of 215,000 jobs in April, an improvement over gains in March.