New claims for US unemployment benefits have risen for the first time in five weeks, official data showed Thursday.
The Labor Department said initial jobless claims totaled 471,000 in the week ending May 15, up 25,000 or 5.6 percent from the prior week’s revised figure of 446,000.
The figure was higher than the average analyst forecast of a drop to 439,000 new claims.
“Although no one expects this volatile series to go in one direction every single week, this is clearly a disappointment,” Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, tells the Associated Press.
Employers are hiring again, but not at levels needed to make a dent in the unemployment rate, which increased in April to 9.9 percent. An improving economy has lured those who had given up looking for work back into the labor market. The jump in the unemployment rate came even though payrolls rose last month by 290,000 jobs, the biggest gain in four years.
Analysts could trim their forecasts for job growth in May based on the sudden rise in new claims. The increase occurred in the week that the government conducts its survey for the monthly unemployment report.
The number of people receiving jobless benefits fell by 40,000 to 4.63 million for the week ending May 8.
However, that figure does not include unemployed workers who have exhausted their regular 26 weeks of benefits. An additional 5.3 million workers are receiving extended benefits paid for by the federal government for the week ending May 1.