The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week rebounded from a near 44-year low, but continued to point to a tightening labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 243,000 for the week ended March 4, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were unrevised at 223,000, the lowest level since March 1973.
It was the 105th straight week that claims remained below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labor market.
That is the longest stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller.
The labor market is at or close to full employment, with employers increasingly reporting difficulties finding qualified workers for open job positions. Labor market tightness together with firming inflation could allow the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates as early as next week.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new claims for unemployment benefits rising to 235,000 in the latest week.