The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but remained below levels associated with a healthy labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000 for the week ended Jan. 9, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week’s claims were unrevised.
Still, it was the 45th consecutive week that claims remained below the 300,000 mark, which is associated with strong labor market conditions. That is the longest such stretch since the early 1970s.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 275,000 in the latest week. The increase likely reflects volatility rather than a change in labor market conditions, as the data is difficult to adjust during holidays. Claims also tend to increase at the start of each quarter.