U.S. filings for unemployment benefits rose by more than anticipated from a 48-year low while continuing to signal a tight job market, Labor Department figures showed March 8.
Highlights of Jobless Claims for the Week Ended March 3
• Jobless claims increased by 21k, most in six months, to 231,000 (estimated 220,000).
• Continuing claims fell by 64,000 to 1.870 million, lowest since early Nov., in week ended Feb. 24 (data reported with one-week lag).
• Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, rose to 222,500 from the prior week’s 220,500.
Initial filings rose the most since the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The increase followed the period that included Presidents Day, and claims can be more volatile around weeks with holidays. Even with the latest rise, claims remain historically low, indicating employers prefer to hold on to workers amid a growing economy and a shrinking pool of qualified applicants.
Analyst projections for monthly data due March 9 show employers probably added workers at a steady clip in February and the jobless rate ticked down to a 17-year low.
While applications for unemployment benefits below 300,000 are typically considered consistent with a healthy labor market, the level in recent years is below other expansions in part because some states have scaled back assistance.
• Prior week’s reading was unrevised at 210,000.
• Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits fell to 1.3% from 1.4%.
• Colorado and Maine had estimated claims last week, according to the Labor Department.
With assistance by Jordan Yadoo