Jobless claims increased by 28,000 to 326,000 in the week ended May 17, after 298,000 filings a week earlier that were higher than initially reported, according to the Labor Department.
The median forecast of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a rise to 310,000. Continuing claims decreased for a third consecutive week.
A steady decline in firings is needed for employers to boost hiring and eventually raise wages that would spur consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 % of the economy.
“This level of claims is enough to keep bringing down the unemployment rate,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “The overall messages is, the trend shows a decline.”
The Labor Department revised the previous week’s figure from an initially reported 297,000.
The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure than the weekly figures, fell to 322,500 last week from 323,500.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits dropped by 13,000 to 2.65 million in the week ended May 10.