New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits rose last week but remained at a modest level of layoffs, signaling a firm jobs market, government data released Thursday showed.
The Labor Department said jobless claims rose by 7,000 to 282,000 in the week ending May 23. The prior week's level was revised up by 1,000 to 275,000.
The increase last week was unexpected; the average estimate was for claims to remain unchanged at 274,000.
There were no special factors affecting last week's initial claims data, the department said.
The four-week moving average, which helps to smooth week-over-week volatility, rose to 271,500, an increase of 5,000 from the previous week's slightly revised average.
The claims data highlighted the generally improving trend in the US jobs market. A year ago, initial claims totaled 307,000 and the four-week average was at 312,750.
"With the trend solidly established below 300K -- this is the 12th straight sub-300K week -- claims are consistent with payroll growth above 250K," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a research note.
In April, the unemployment rate fell to a seven-year low of 5.4 percent and the economy added 223,000 jobs.