The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week, the U.S. government reported Thursday, suggesting the labor market is recovering too slowly to significantly reduce the national unemployment rate.
The Labor Department said initial jobless claims rose 4,000 to 372,000, the highest level in five weeks. The four-week moving average of jobless claims-considered a better gauge of labor-market trends-increased to 368,000, or about 2 percent lower than in the second week of July.
Jobless claims are a measure of the pace of layoffs. When they fall consistently below 375,000, it typically suggests hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate, currently at 8.3 percent.
Claims have risen for two consecutive weeks, but they are still lower than five weeks ago, suggesting hiring could improve slightly in August.