Surprise Rise for U.S. Jobless Claims

The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, which could add to concerns that the labour market was losing steam after job growth slowed sharply in May.

Figures released Thursday by the U.S. Labor Department revealed initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 for the week ended June 8. Data for the prior week was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists had forecast claims actually decreasing to 216,000 in the latest week. The department said no states were estimated. While layoffs remain relatively low, the third straight weekly increase in claims suggests some softening in labour market conditions.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, increased 2,500 to 217,750 last week.