The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits tumbled to a 15-year low last week and consumer spending rose in March, signs the economy was regaining momentum after stumbling badly in the first quarter.
The economic outlook was brightened further by another report on April 30 showing a solid increase in wages in the first quarter.
“This morning’s reports all point to an economy that is doing a lot better than the near-stagnation in first-quarter G.D.P. suggests,” said Paul Ashworth, chief United States economist at Capital Economics in Toronto on April 30.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 34,000 to a seasonally adjusted 262,000 for the week ended April 25, the lowest reading since April 2000, the Labor Department said.
Though the decline, which far exceeded Wall Street’s expectations for a drop to 290,000, most likely exaggerates the labor market’s health, it bolstered views that March’s sharp moderation in job growth was probably an aberration.
Another report showed that factory activity in the Midwest accelerated in April, pushing further away from a five-and-a-half-year low hit in February.
Private sector wages and salaries increased 0.7 percent after gaining 0.5 percent in the previous quarter. They rose 2.8 percent in the 12 months through March, the biggest gain since the third quarter of 2008.