New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits increased more than expected last week, but the number of Americans on jobless rolls fell to its lowest level since 1973, pointing to tightening labor market conditions.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 242,000 for the week ended March 31, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior week were revised to show 3,000 more claims received than previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 225,000 in the latest week. Last week's increase likely reflected difficulties adjusting the data around moving holidays like Easter and school spring breaks.