Jobless Claims in U.S. Bounce Back from 48-Year Low

The number of Americans filing applications for new unemployment benefits rose last week, moving up from the lowest level since the year of the first moon landing.

Figures released Thursday by the U.S. Labor Department showed initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., rose by 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 231,000 in the week ended March 3. Economistsl expected 220,000 new claims last week.

Previously, unemployment benefit applications fell to their lowest level since December 1969, signaling an already tight labour market may have had more slack to pick up and businesses may be struggling to find and retain talent.

What's more, unemployment claims south of the border have remained below 300,000, a level economists consider healthy, for about three years. This is the longest stretch since a similar run that ended in 1970, when the U.S. workforce was far smaller than it is today.

Still, claims data can be volatile. The four-week moving average, a steadier measure, increased 2,000 to 222,500 last week.