Claims reached a seasonally adjusted level of 326,000 for the week ended May 17. Initial claims for the previous week were revised up 1,000 to 298,000.
Overall, the numbers stayed close to a seven-year low and pointed to ongoing healing in the labor market.
Weekly claims number frequently move up and down, however the less volatile four-week average dropped 1,000 to 322,500. Claims fell by 31,000 in the first week of April, but rose by a net 29,000 in the following two weeks. The four-week average began 2014 at 346,000, fell to 321,000 by the end of March and was 320,250 at the end of April.
In the first four months of this year, employers have added an average of 214,000 jobs a month, up from 194,000 last year.
Still economists expect growth will accelerate to a healthy pace of about 3.5 percent in the second quarter, as consumer spending and homebuilding rebound from the cold weather.
Growth may slow a bit in the second half of the year as the bounce-back fades. But it should top 2.5 percent for the whole year.
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