The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, touching the highest level in more than a year, which could raise concerns about labor market health in the wake of the slowdown in job gains in April.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 294,000 for the week ended May 7, the highest level since late February 2015, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Claims for the prior week were unrevised. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast initial claims slipping to 270,000 in the latest week.
Despite last week’s jump, claims remained below 300,000, a threshold associated with healthy job market conditions, for 62 consecutive weeks, the longest stretch since 1973.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week’s claims data and no states had been estimated. There was a surge in claims in New York and Michigan in the latest week. Read more