The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits increased more than expected last week, but the increase probably does not suggest a shift in labor-market conditions as the underlying trend continued to point to strength, the government reported Thursday.
The Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 24,000 to 329,000 last week. The four-week moving average of jobless claims, considered a better measure of trends because it smoothes weekly volatility, rose only 4,750 to 316,750, not far from pre-recession levels.
Despite some recent volatility, jobless claims have generally been declining in recent months, a hopeful sign for the job market. Three weeks ago, claims fell to 301,000, the lowest level in almost seven years.
Elsewhere in the report, the number of people still receiving jobless benefits fell 61,000 to 2.68 million last week, the lowest level since late 2007.