The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose slightly more than expected last week, but the underlying trend continued to suggest the labor market was tightening.
The jobs market is strengthening despite a sluggish economy that has been characterized by tepid consumer spending, as well as weak business investment and manufacturing activity.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 274,000 for the week ended May 16, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were unrevised.
Despite last week’s increase, claims remained below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strengthening labor market, for an 11th straight week. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 271,000 last week.
The sturdy labor market keeps the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates later this year. Minutes of the U.S. central bank’s April meeting released on Wednesday showed most policymakers saw little chance of a June rate hike.