The number of Americans seeking first-time unemployment benefits rose last week, a sign the labor market may have lost some steam after last month's solid job growth.
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Initial jobless claims rose by 31,000 to a seasonally adjusted 313,000 in the week ended Feb. 21, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 290,000 new claims.
Jobless claims are a measure of layoffs across the economy and have been hovering near levels last seen during the mid-2000s economic expansion. The weekly figure is notoriously volatile, especially around holidays; last week included Presidents Day.
The longer-term trend suggests a tightening market as employers gain confidence and respond to higher demand.