First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rose by slightly more than expected in the week ended February 16th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 362,000, an increase of 20,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 342,000.
Economists had been expecting jobless claims to rise to 359,000 from the 341,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the bigger than expected increase, jobless claims partly offset the decrease of 26,000 seen in the previous week, although claims remain below their recent highs.
Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital, said, "It's not a shock to see U.S. initial claims pop back up in the latest week, given the prior period's surprisingly large drop."
While Lee noted that the rebound came during the February survey week, she said the level is still below the last survey period.
The Labor Department also said its four-week moving average edged up to 360,750 from the previous week's revised average of 352,750.
The increase lifted the less volatile four-week moving average further off the nearly five-year low set two weeks ago.
The report also showed that continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, rose to 3.148 million in the week ended February 9th from the preceding week's revised level of 3.137 million.
Meanwhile, the four-week moving average of continuing claims fell to 3,186,250, a decrease of 6,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,193,000.
by RTT Staff Writer
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