Jobless claims jump back above 300K; remain near pre-recession levels

Jobless claims 315, 000

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but that probably does not signal a material shift in labor market conditions as claims remain near their pre-recession levels.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 315,000 for the week ended Sept. 6, the highest level since late June, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Claims for the prior week were revised to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 300,000 last week.

The period included the Labor Day holiday and claims tend to be volatile around holidays. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the state level data.

A woman walks past a "Now Hiring" sign as she leaves the Urban Outfitters store at Quincy Market in Boston.
Brian Snyder | Reuters

The four-week average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, edged up 750 to 304,000, not far from pre-recession levels and consistent with strengthening labor market conditions.

While job growth braked sharply in August, economists cautioned against reading too much into the weakness, noting that payroll gains tend to be smaller in August because of difficulties adjusting the data for seasonal fluctuations in hiring.

The jobless claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose 9,000 to 2.49 million in the week ended Aug. 30, also not straying too far from pre-recession levels.

The unemployment rate for people receiving unemployment benefits held at 1.9 percent for the ninth straight week.

--By Reuters