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First Cut: Initial jobless claims fall 8,000 in March 23 week, report includes annual revisions

New claims for jobless benefits fell 8,000 in the March 23 week, down to 216,000 after 224,000 in the prior week. The report included annual revisions — back through 2014 — that smoothed out some of the volatility in recent reports. The new underlying trend for claims appears to be a little lower, hovering near the 220,000-mark.

No states estimated claims and the Labor Department cited no special factors. The flooding in Nebraska and neighboring states may lead to some increases in claims, but farm workers are not generally included in these sorts of data. There may be indirect effects showing up in the coming weeks.

Continuing claims were up 13,000 to 1.756 million in the March 16 week. The increase is not significant and is close to the four-week moving average of 1.751 million. The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.2% where it has been for 46 straight weeks. There is no sign of the tight labor market easing up in spite of the somewhat slower measures of growth.

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