The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week,
but the data was impacted by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, making it difficult to get a clear pulse of the labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000 for the week ended Sept. 9, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
A Labor Department official said hurricanes Harvey and Irma had impacted on last week's claims data.
Claims shot up 62,000 in the week ended Sept. 2 after Harvey, which ravaged Texas, left some workers temporarily unemployed. Claims for Texas increased 51,683 during that week. Following the initial rush, filings in the state declined last week.
Irma, which made landfall over the weekend, led to office closures this week. As a result, the Labor Department estimated claims for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Virgin Islands.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 300,000 in the latest week. The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 13,000 to 263,250 last week, the highest level since mid-August 2016.