WASHINGTON – The number of U.S. workers applying for state unemployment aid increased last week to the highest level in six weeks, the government said Thursday in a report that showed little change in a weakened labor market as the economy slowly recovers.
The number of initial jobless claims rose by 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 403,000 for the week ended July 6, the Labor Department said. But the weekly data, a department official said, is typically volatile this time of year and hard to seasonally adjust as auto manufacturers and others begin annual summer shutdowns at their plants.
Still, the increase was higher than expected. Wall Street economists in a Reuters poll forecast, on average, that initial claims would edge up to 392,000.
The four-week moving average, considered a more reliable gauge of employment conditions because it irons out weekly fluctuations, inched up to 395,000 from 393,000.
The number of workers remaining on state unemployment benefits for the week ended June 29, the most recent week these data were available, fell by 33,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.6 million.