The number of Americans filing applications for new unemployment benefits rose last week, partly reversing the prior week's sharp decline and continuing a recent trend of gradually rising applications.
Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., increased by 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 233,000 in the week ended Jan. 20, the Labor Department said Thursday.
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Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 237,000 new claims last week.
Previously, jobless claims had risen for four straight weeks at the end of 2017 and into January, but declined steeply in mid-January, breaking that trend. The increasing number of claims resumed last week.
Weekly jobless claims have held below 300,000, viewed by many economists as a healthy level, for almost three years, the longest streak since the 1970s.
The number of claims workers made for longer than a week declined by 28,000 to 1,937,000 in the week ended Jan. 13, which is reported along with last week's data because continuing claims are released with a one-week lag.
Jobless claims data can be volatile. The four-week moving average, a steadier measure, fell 3,500 to 240,000 last week.
The unemployment rate has been parked at 4.1%, a 17-year low. Recent reports by the Federal Reserve indicate employers across Fed regions have struggled to find workers to fill positions, indicating the labor market could tighten further this as companies compete for workers.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 25, 2018 09:06 ET (14:06 GMT)