The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, posting the biggest gain in more than a year, but the underlying trend continued to point to a strengthening labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 274,000 for the week ended April 30, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Last week's increase was the largest since February of last year.
Claims for the prior week were unrevised. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast initial claims rising to 260,000 in the latest week. Jobless claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with healthy labor market conditions, for 61 consecutive weeks, the longest stretch since 1973.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week's claims data and only claims for the District of Columbia had been estimated.