The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits jumped to its highest level in more than two years last week amid a surge in applications in hurricane-ravaged Texas, but the underlying trend remained consistent with a firming jobs market.
The surge in claims reported by the Labor Department on Thursday offered an early glimpse of Hurricane Harvey’s impact on the economy. The storm, which unleashed unprecedented flooding in Houston, disrupted oil, natural gas and petrochemical production and forced a temporary closure of refineries.
Economists say Harvey could put a dent in third-quarter gross domestic product, but expect lost output to be recouped in the October-December period.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits surged 62,000 to a seasonally adjusted 298,000 for the week ended Sept. 2, the highest level since April 2015, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The weekly increase was the largest since November 2012. A Labor Department official said last week’s data had been impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
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