New U.S. applications for unemployment benefits last week recorded their largest increase in eight months, but remained at levels consistent with a fairly healthy labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 276,000 for the week ended Oct. 31, the Labor Department said on Thursday. It was the largest weekly gain since late February.
Claims had hovered near 42-year lows for much of October.
The prior week’s claims were unrevised. It was the 35th straight week that claims were below the 300,000 threshold, which is normally associated with a strong jobs market.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 262,000 last week. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the data.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it strips out week-to-week volatility, rose 3,500 to 262,750 last week.