US jobless claims rise to more than four-month high
Help wanted sign (AFP Photo/Joe Raedle)

The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits rose to more than a four-month high last week, but the underlying trend remained consistent with a tightening labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 224,000 for the week ended Nov. 17, the highest level since the end of June, the Labor Department said on Wednesday.

Data for the prior week was revised to show 5,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 215,000 in the latest week.

The Labor Department said no states were estimated last week. It said claims for North Carolina and Florida continued to be affected by Hurricanes Florence and Michael, respectively.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 2,000 to 218,500 last week.

The claims data covered the survey period for the nonfarm payrolls component of November’s employment report.

The four-week average of claims rose by 6,750 between the October and November survey weeks, suggesting another month of strong job growth.

Payrolls increased by 250,000 jobs in October, with the unemployment rate holding near a 49-year low of 3.7 percent. The labor market is viewed as being near or at full employment.

Thursday’s claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 2,000 to 1.67 million for the week ended Nov. 10.

The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims increased 7,500 to 1.65 million.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani Editing by Paul Simao; 1 202 898 8315; Reuters Messaging: