Weekly Jobless Claims Rise Unexpectedly

The number of U.S. workers filing new jobless claims last week rose unexpectedly by 6,000, the government said Thursday.

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits climbed to a seasonally adjusted 327,000 in the week ended Dec. 3 from an upwardly revised 321,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said.

A Labor Department analyst said that historically, claims tend to rise in the week following the holiday-shortened Thanksgiving week.

The number of new claims was above Wall Street forecasts for 317,000 and the original reading of 320,000 for the week ended Nov. 26.

The analyst said there were about 7,000 new claims last week related to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, not adjusted for seasonal factors, which brings the cumulative number of claims linked to the Gulf Coast storms to 569,000.

Hurricane Wilma, which hit Florida in late October, was cited as the reason behind about 700 unadjusted claims, for a running total of 30,700.

The four-week moving average of new claims, which smooths weekly volatility to provide a better picture of labor market trends, fell for the second straight week, dropping to 322,500 from 322,750 the prior week.

The number of people who remained on the benefit rolls after drawing an initial week of aid fell 137,000 in the week ended Nov. 26, the latest period for which data are available. That was the largest one-week drop since the start of the year and took so-called continued claims to 2.60 million.