Weekly Jobless Claims Leap on Puerto Rico Shutdown

New claims for U.S. jobless aid unexpectedly surged last week by 42,000 as a partial government shutdown in Puerto Rico added 46,000 unadjusted claims, a government report showed Thursday.

First-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 367,000 in the week ended May 13 from an upwardly revised 325,000 claims the previous week, the Labor Department said.

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Excluding claims related to the government shutdown in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, seasonally adjusted initial claims would have been closer to 312,000, a Labor Department analyst said.

Government layoffs in Puerto Rico started May 1 because of a funding crisis, but the situation has since been resolved and the Labor Department analyst said it should not be a factor next week.

Wall Street economists had forecast new claims to fall to 319,000 last week from an initially reported 324,000 the previous week.

The four-week moving average of new claims, which smooths weekly volatility to provide a better picture of underlying labor market trends, rose 15,750 to 333,250 last week.

The number of people who continued to collect jobless benefits after drawing an initial week of aid rose 8,000 to 2.39 million in the week ended May 6, the latest period for which figures were available. That was well below Wall Street forecasts for 2.435 million continued claims.

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