The number of Americans filing for first-time joblessness benefits rose last week to 348,000 from a downwardly revised 334,000 the week prior.
Wall Street was looking for claims to fall to 335,000 from an initially reported 336,000. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 2,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time jobless benefits dipping to 335,000 in the week ended February 22, which included the Presidents Day holiday.
While last week’s increase pushed them to the upper end of their range so far this year, suggesting labor market weakness as claims tend to be volatile around federal holidays.
Economists and the mainstream media ave outrageously blamed unusually cold winter has clouded the labor market , with job growth halting sharply in December and barely recovering in January.
A third month of weak hiring is expected during the survey week for February nonfarm payrolls.
The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose 8,000 to 2.96 million in the week ended February 15.
The so-called continuing claims have been elevated in recent weeks and some economists say the cold weather could be preventing many recipients from going out to search for work and companies to delay hiring.