US jobless claims fall after Easter-period surge

WASHINGTON (AFP) - New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits fell last week following a short-lived surge, bringing them back in line with the past year's level, official data showed on Thursday.

Initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, totalled 319,000 in the week ending May 3, compared with 345,000 the prior week, the Labor department said.

The four-week moving average rose by 4,500 to 324,750, lower than the 340,000 level from a year ago but generally within the range of the past 12 months.

"The gyrations in claims in recent weeks always seemed likely to be due to Easter seasonal adjustment problems, and this report suggests that normal service is now being restored," said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

'We think the underlying trend in claims is in the mid-320s," he said.

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