719,000 Americans file for first-time unemployment benefits

Both initial and continuing claims were above expectations

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, according to the Labor Department.

Data released Thursday showed 719,000 Americans filed first-time jobless claims in the week ended March 27. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting 680,000 filings. The prior week’s reading was revised down to 658,000 from 684,000. The increase comes a week after first-time filings fell to their lowest level since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continuing claims for the week ended March 20, meanwhile, rose to 3.794 million, up from last week’s downwardly revised 3.84 million. Analysts had expected 3.775 million Americans would file for continuing claims.


President Biden on Wednesday unveiled his more than $2 trillion infrastructure plan, the so-called  American Jobs Plan, which he billed as a “once-in-a-century capital investment” in U.S. infrastructure that will create millions of good-paying jobs. The U.S. economy has since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic lost about 9 million jobs that have not yet been recovered.

An update on the health of the labor market is due Friday with the release of the March jobs report.

Economists are expecting U.S. nonfarm payrolls to add 647,000 new nonfarm jobs as the unemployment rate 6%, the lowest since March 2020, according to Refinitv.