Although accelerating U.S. merger and acquisition activity holds out the prospect of the numbers rising later this year as companies shed unneeded workers, initial claims for unemployment insurance remain relatively low.
For the week ending Feb. 26, the most recent week for which data are available, the seasonally adjusted figure for first-time claims was 310,000, a decrease of 1,000 claims from the previous week's revised figure of 311,000, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Mar. 3. The department's four-week moving average of initial jobless claims, considered a better indicator of underlying labor market conditions because it smooths out week-to-week changes, also decreased last week. The four-week moving average was 307,000, some 1,500 fewer than the previous week's revised average of 308,500.