Jobless claims tumble to 15-year low

May 1, 2015

WASHINGTON (5/1/15)--Initial claims for unemployment dropped by 34,000 to 262,000 during the week ending April 25, the lowest number of jobless claims since the turn of the century.

The four-week moving average for jobless claims fell to 283,750 for the week from 285,000, which reverses the prior week's increase ( April 30).

Further, the four-week moving average has fallen in four of the past six weeks, and sits just above its cyclical low of 282,500.

"Historically, a four-week moving average of less than 300,000 is rare, but it has been common this year," said Ryan Sweet, Moody's analyst (

Continuing claims, or those who file for unemployment insurance for at least a second consecutive week, dropped by 74,000 to 2.253 million for the week ending April 18, also its fourth drop in the last six weeks.

Sweet said the drop in the four-week moving average for continuing claims could point to a decrease in the unemployment rate, but on the other hand, "the labor market details in the Conference Board survey of consumer confidence weakened in April, suggesting a higher unemployment rate."

Additional job market numbers from Thursday:

  • Wages and salaries accelerated by 0.7% in the first quarter, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private industry wages and salaries climbed 0.7%, while government wages and salaries rose 0.4%;
  • Personal income in March was largely unchanged, climbing only slightly, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis; and
  • Real spending increased by 0.3% in March, the largest gain since November. The increase was driven by durable goods spending, especially on vehicles.