The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, but still remained at levels consistent with a steady improvement in labor market conditions.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week’s claims figure was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to rise to 355,000. The increase in claims last week pushed them toward the upper end of their range for this year.
A blizzard that hit the East Coast late in the first week of February could have exaggerated the drop in claims for the week ended Feb. 9.
A Labor Department analyst said claims for California and Virginia had been estimated, as well as figures for Hawaii and the District of Columbia.
Last week’s data covered the survey period for the February nonfarm payrolls report. Claims were up 27,000 between the January and February survey periods.