New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped by 19,000 last week on the back of the traditional summer shutdown at automobile plants, according to government data released on Thursday.

Initial claims for state jobless insurance benefits rose to 332,000 in the week ended July 8 from 313,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said. Analysts were expecting new claims to rise to 318,000.

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A Labor Department analyst attributed the bulk of the increase in unadjusted claims to the annual summer shutdown in the automobile industry.

Automobile plants traditionally shut down for some time during July. This year General Motors Corp. (GM) closed its plants for one week, Ford Motor Co.'s (F) were closed for at least a week and Nissan Motor Co.'s shut down for a few days.

The analyst said the rise also included 4,000 unadjusted new claims caused by a partial shutdown of the New Jersey state government over a missed deadline for its budget. The shutdown, which furloughed 45,000 state workers earlier this month, has since been resolved.

The closely watched four-week moving average for claims, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, stood at 317,250 in the week ended July 8. Though it was 8,750 more than the 308,500 the prior week, the average remains below the 324,000 seen for the same period a year ago.

The number of Americans already on unemployment benefit rolls who filed continued claims fell to 2.43 million in the week ended July 1, the latest period for which data are available, against 2.45 million the prior week.

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