Jobless Claims Jumped Last Week

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose last week but remained low by historical standards. Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., increased by 16,000 to seasonally adjusted 276,000 in the week ended Oct. 31, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 260,000 new claims last week. Last week's increase was the largest since late February. The four-week moving average of claims, which evens out weekly ups and downs, rose by 3,500 to 262,750 last week. Despite that increase, the level remains near the lowest since December 1973. Claims were unrevised at 260,000 for the week ending Oct. 24. Claims have been trending downward since 2009 and have recently hovered near a four-decade low. That suggests employers have been reluctant to lay off workers, a sign the labor market is getting tighter. Fewer layoffs typically means hiring is picking up. But job gains have slowed in recent months, reaching 142,000 in September and 136,000 in August. That is well off the pace of around 230,000 new jobs a month on average over the past 12 months. Thursday's report showed the number of continuing unemployment benefits, claims drawn by workers for more than a week, rose by 17,000 to 2,163,000 in the week ended Oct. 24. Continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag. The Labor Department said there were no special factors affecting the latest weekly numbers. Write to David Harrison at and Eric Morath at

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