The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose by the most since December 2013 last week from a week earlier, a sign of uneven progress in the labor market.
Jobless claims increased by 31,000 to 313,000 in the week ended Feb. 21 from a revised 282,000 in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 49 economists surveyed by Bloomberg saw claims rising to 290,000.
Looking past the weekly data, which can often be volatile, job-market fundamentals have improved as payroll growth accelerates and Americans stream into the labor force looking for work. Continued improvement will be needed to generate faster wage growth and support consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the economy.
“We dug ourselves in an enormous hole in the recession, and it’s going to take a long time to climb out of,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said before the report.
Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 280,000 to 315,000. The prior week’s claims were revised from an initial reading of 283,000.
The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, gained to 294,500 from a revised 283,000 the week before.