SLIGHT RISE: The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits increased just 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 352,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose only 2,750 to 361,250.
MODEST HIRING: The slight increases kept applications at a level consistent with solid hiring. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They jumped three weeks ago to a four-month high, but then plummeted the next week.
MARCH BLIP: The decline over the past two weeks is one reason economists forecast that March's sluggish hiring may be temporary. A Federal Reserve report released Wednesday also suggested the job market performed better in March than the government's employment report indicated.