Jobless Claims Rose 3,000 Last Week, Less Than Expected

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose a slightly less-than-expected 3,000 last week, a government report showed on Thursday, but remained at levels indicative of a healthy job market.

The Labor Department said 311,000 workers filed new claims for state unemployment insurance benefits in the week ended Feb. 3, up from a revised 308,000 a week earlier.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors behind the rise and that the tornado that struck central Florida on Feb. 2 had no effect on the data.

More than 1,500 homes, buildings and churches were damaged or destroyed across a wide area by severe thunderstorms and at least one tornado that killed at least 19 people.

Private economists had expected the number of claims, a rough guide to the pace of layoffs, to rise to 313,000 from the original reading of 307,000 in the week ended Jan. 27.

The four-week moving average of new claims, viewed as a more accurate indicator of labor conditions because it smooths weekly volatility, also rose, climbing to 308,250 from 305,000
in the week ended Jan. 27.

The number of people who remained on the benefit rolls after drawing an initial week of aid fell 54,000 to 2.49 million in the week ended Jan. 27, the latest week for which figures are available.