Weekly jobless claims, or the measure of the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose, though less than expected last week. According to a report released Thursday by the Labor Department, initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 293,000 for the week ending on September 20.
Meanwhile, claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 more applications than previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to slightly more last week than Labor reported, or 300,000.
The four-week moving average of claims, which is widely cited as a better measure of labor market trends due to its ability to iron out week-to-week volatility, actually fell by 1,250 to 293,500.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the state level data.
Claims are hovering near their pre-recession levels, which economists argue is either an indication that labor market conditions are improving or that there are simply not enough eligible Americans left after so many dropped out of the labor force.
The Labor report found the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid edged up 7,000 to 2.44 million in the week ended September 13, while data for the so-called continuing claims covered the household survey week from which the unemployment rate for September will be calculated.
Continuing claims fell 89,000 between August and September, which some suggest is a sign of improvement in the unemployment rate. The jobless rate was at 6.1 percent in August, but again that is a bit misleading. The unemployment rate has fallen due to the abysmal labor force participation rate and counting of part-time, low-paying jobs.