The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but remained below a level associated with a strengthening labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 261,000 for the week ended March 18, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Claims for the prior week were revised to show 5,000 more applications received than previously reported. The government revised the claims data going back to 2012 and published new seasonal factors for 2017. The revisions showed no significant change in the state of labor market.
Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labor market for 80 straight weeks. That is the longest stretch since 1970 when the labor market was smaller. The labor market is currently near full employment.