The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week and nonfarm productivity contracted more sharply than previously thought in the fourth quarter.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 320,000 for the week ended Feb. 28, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected claims to fall to 295,000 last week.
The four-week moving average for claims, which evens out weekly volatility, rose by 10,250 to 304,750 last week.
In a second report, U.S. worker productivity was even weaker than first thought from October through December while labor costs rose at a faster rate.
The Commerce Department says that productivity declined at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter, weaker than the 1.8 percent drop that was estimated a month ago. Labor costs rose at a 4.1 percent rate, faster than the 2.7 percent increase first estimated.
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