Applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. rose more than forecast last week, interrupting a steady decline to pre-recession lows.
Jobless claims climbed by 21,000 to 311,000 in the period ended Aug. 9, the highest in six weeks, a Labor Department report showed.
The median forecast of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for 295,000. There was nothing unusual in the data and no states were estimated, a spokesman said as the figures were released.
The jump represents a departure from a run of low readings that showed employers had been holding firm on staffing levels in order to keep up with demand.
“We’ll probably see a bit of a give back from the sharp drop we’ve seen in the weeks before,” Millan Mulraine, deputy head of U.S. research and strategy at TD Securities USA said. “The underlying story on claims remains the same -- it’s one that’s fairly constructive and one that’s pointing to a labor market that’s finally, I would think, having lift-off.”
Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 286,000 to 315,000. The Labor Department revised the prior week’s reading to 290,000 from an initially reported 289,000.
The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, increased to 295,750 from 293,750 in the prior week that was the lowest since 2006. Last week’s average is still well below the 318,700 mean so far this year.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits rose by 25,000 to 2.54 million in the week ended Aug. 2, the claims data showed. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.9% during that period.