WASHINGTON – New U.S. unemployment applications jumped unexpectedly last week, while a longer-term barometer of labor trends shot to its highest since the United States was recovering from a brief recession in the early 1990s, a government report showed on Thursday.
First-time jobless claims, which gives an early reading on the resilience of the labor market, rose 9,000 to 421,000 in the week ended April 28 from a revised 412,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said.
Private economists surveyed by Reuters had expected claims to drop to 400,000.
The figure was at its highest since 428,000 in the week of March 23, 1996, when members of the United Auto Workers union went on strike against General Motors Corp.
The closely watched four-week moving average for the April 28 week rose for the fifth straight week to 404,500 from 395,250 in the prior week, and its highest since 406,750 in the week of Oct.10, 1992.
Economists consider the four-week moving average a more reliable indicator of job market trends because it irons out weekly fluctuations.